Drivers, put down the phone

By Jacob Hoag, COLUMNIST
On April 9, 2017

The Florida Legislature has multiple bills on the agenda that would crack down on texting while driving. ORACLE PHOTO/JACKIE BENITEZ

There’s nothing more frustrating than driving behind or next to a distracted driver. 

They swerve. They slow down. But most of all, they’re dangerous not only to themselves, but also to other innocent drivers around them.

With multiple bills circulating the Florida Legislature looking to crack down on texting while driving by making it a primary offense, it’s time for drivers, especially students, to put the phones down.

Far too many times, avoidable accidents and injuries occur due to people behind the wheel reading and responding to texts and tweets rather than paying attention to the road.

And as students, we are a large part of the problem.

A study by the American Automobile Association found that 59.3 percent of drivers age 19-24 were twice as likely to send a text or email while driving.

In the age of social media, we are constantly on our phones, consuming any bit of information that we can. 

We send texts, check emails, change songs on Spotify, send out a tweet or a Snapchat. We Facetime and talk on the phone. Some of us even Netflix or put on the latest basketball game we’re missing.

We argue that checking texts at red lights and stop signs is perfectly safe. Then we argue that glancing down to skip a song or read a text on an empty road is no big deal. 

Next thing we know, we’re sending a text on the interstate going 80 miles per hour and look up too late, only to find traffic has suddenly stopped.

But when we’re on the road, it’s not only our lives that we’re putting in danger. It’s the mom driving her three children to soccer practice, the grandfather on his way back from the doctor or a fellow student looking to get to class without harm.

One in four vehicle crashes in the U.S. involve a cellphone, with nine Americans dying every day. There are over 340,000 accidents of this nature that happen each year, according to the Huffington Post.

It’s an issue that is ruining lives, and it’s an issue that is 100 percent avoidable.

These bills in the Legislature may make driving an even greater annoyance if passed. However, they will only force drivers to act the way they should. 

Reversing the trend, like in many cases, starts with the millennials.

It’s up to us to put the phone down, or our lawmakers will do it for us. 

 

Jacob Hoag is a senior majoring in mass communications. 

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