About this sample
About this sample
Words: 848 |
5 min read
Published: Feb 12, 2024
Words: 848|Pages: 2|5 min read
With the advancement of technology, the prevalence of distracted driving has increased, particularly with the rise of texting while driving. This behavior poses a significant risk to the driver, other motorists, and pedestrians. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016), distracted driving leads to over eight fatalities and more than a thousand injuries daily (para. 1). While hands-free devices and auto-responses have been introduced to prevent texting while driving, further precautions are necessary to ensure that drivers refrain from this dangerous behavior.
The use of electronic devices, especially cell phones, diverts drivers' attention from the task at hand, which is driving and being aware of the road and surroundings. Texting, in particular, takes the driver's hands off the steering wheel, significantly increasing the risk of accidents. Texting while driving affects all three essential skills for safe driving - cognitive, manual, and visual. It is worth noting the correlation between younger drivers and their inclination towards texting and electronic device usage. The prevalence of this behavior among young drivers significantly contributes to the likelihood of accidents. A recent survey conducted by national representatives found that nearly 70% of drivers aged sixteen to twenty-five admitted to texting while driving, compared to only 14% of all respondents. Moreover, young passengers often fail to recognize the importance of reporting such incidents (Mayhew, Robertson, Brown, & Vanlaar, 2013, p. 1).
The safety of hands-free texting is often underestimated due to the relatively new technology of in-car voice controls and other hands-free devices. Consequently, there is limited research on the subject. However, it is crucial to recognize that hands-free texting while driving can also lead to distractions and potential accidents. Therefore, to address this traffic safety issue in the context of public health, previous research on hands-free texting needs to be examined to identify the root of the problem.
Although most studies on driving and texting have primarily focused on cell phone distractions, they provide valuable insights into the effects of distractions in general and the use of specific hands-free texting devices. For instance, a Canadian study in Calgary involving both experienced and inexperienced drivers revealed that visual scanning while using a phone was significantly impaired due to distraction. Notably, novice drivers using cell phones did not decrease their speed, while experienced drivers tended to slow down to enhance their alertness to the surrounding environment. Additionally, novice drivers using cell phones exhibited increased lane wandering. Experienced drivers, when on their phones, experienced delayed responses and reactions, similar to beginner drivers (Chisholm, Caird, Lockhart, Teteris, & Smiley, 2006, p. 2354).
Although extensive research has been conducted on driving and texting, few studies have focused on hands-free devices since secondary tasks are often overlooked as potentially harmful. Nonetheless, studies examining in-vehicle technologies have shown that even listening to the radio can distract drivers (Young, Regan, & Hammer, 2003, p. 6). Schweizer et al. (2013) conducted a study specifically investigating how hands-free devices can compromise driver focus and attention (p. 4). Participants were asked to answer simple yes or no questions while simultaneously pressing buttons on the steering wheel, similar to modern in-vehicle technologies. The study found that distracted driving significantly affected the functioning of the posterior brain, which is crucial for alertness and attention. Despite the relatively small sample size, the research successfully confirmed the hypothesis that multitasking can compromise a driver's cognitive functioning. Therefore, when drivers engage in secondary tasks, such as hands-free texting using in-vehicle systems, their attention is diverted, and they lack the necessary focus to observe the road. Texting drivers may physically look at the road without truly perceiving events occurring in their driving environment. It has been estimated that texting drivers may fail to notice up to fifty percent of road events.
Despite the widely recognized dangers of driving and texting, it was initially assumed that secondary tasks like hands-free texting posed no risks. However, as mentioned earlier, this logic is flawed. Yager's study (2013) revealed that drivers' responses were significantly affected when they increased their use of hands-free texting technologies (p. 1). Thus, hands-free texting does not effectively keep drivers' attention on the road. While banning hands-free texting may not entirely solve the issue, as some drivers will continue to engage in the behavior, raising awareness within the public sphere and implementing stricter laws and penalties can hold texting drivers accountable for endangering themselves and others on the road. Simultaneously, advancements in hands-free technologies should continue, offering drivers safer and more efficient options to address urgent matters while behind the wheel.
In conclusion, hands-free texting while driving has been found to impair drivers' attention and increase the likelihood of accidents. Countries with high traffic volumes, like India and the United States, have seen a significant rise in distracted driving, particularly due to the prevalence of texting while driving. This behavior not only puts the driver's life at risk but also endangers other motorists and pedestrians on the road. While hands-free devices and auto-responses have been introduced to prevent texting while driving, further precautions are necessary to ensure that drivers refrain from this dangerous behavior.
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