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As technology has advanced the problem with texting while driving has been increasing tremendously. While although there are many ways a driver can be distracted, texting is the most dangerous because it requires visual, cognitive, and manual attention resulting in an overall distraction from the task at hand. In 2010 the National Safety Council estimated that around 200,000 deaths a year are caused explicitly by texting-while driving. Texting while driving has become a major public health problem in today’s society. In this research I will introduce an experiment that will test an intervention to boost the understanding of the effects that texting-while driving has, which is a preventable cause of death that is becoming an epidemic in young adults.
Young adults are especially affected by the epidemic of texting while driving due to the advancement and accessibility of technology. Many young adults seem to have a higher sense of internal control and self-actualization, resulting in a lower death anxiety and a feeling of somewhat invincibility. I anticipate that increasing the knowledge about the effects of texting while driving will result in reduced rates of unintentional deaths among young adults. I will specifically have the participants complete a questionnaire about the effects of texting-while driving and their attitudes towards this public health problems severity as well as consequences.
I will be using O’Carroll and colleagues (2011) experiment 2 as a model for my study. The study population I would like to observe is young adult drivers in the Suffolk County area of Long Island, NY; the sample I will study will include 500 young adult drivers from the ages of 16 to 24 years old; they will be recruited from High Schools and Colleges across Suffolk County. The participants in this study will be randomly assigned to the intervention and control groups. The independent variable of the study will be attitude on the epidemic at hand and will be tested by a questionnaire given to all participants, however the intervention group will receive extra statistics regarding this epidemic. The intervention group will receive statistics on the end of the survey explaining the severity of deaths that occur due to texting while driving. Due to the random assignment of the participants, I foresee that any differences in the dependent variable will be specifically due to the groups I had assigned them in the study.
I expect that the intervention group will have their attitudes changed towards the severity that texting while driving has on them and other drivers on the road. Due to this change of attitude, the extra statistics at the end of the survey that the intervention group received seem to have played a role in the attitude change regarding this public health problem. If increasing the knowledge of texting-while driving results in the intervention group being less likely to text on their phones while driving a vehicle, then this study provides support for knowledge-based interventions in order to impact the public health by changing behavior and attitudes regarding texting while driving and preventing unintentional deaths.
In summary, providing statistics about deaths related to texting while driving had resulted in the attitude change regarding the participants using their phone while driving a vehicle. Because my study was only conducted in the Suffolk County area of Long Island there was limitations to the results, however in the future I would like to expand this study to the rest of the United States and see if the results are comparable. Awareness of death is different of every culture and is on a continuum between death denying and death welcoming; the culture of young adults seem to be closer to death denying which is shown by their carelessness for their lives as well as the lives of others.
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