Our nation’s streets, roadways and thoroughfares are an increasingly dangerous place to be. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports the number of highway deaths in the first six months of this year spiked 10.4 percent – to 17,775 – as compared to the first six months of 2015. And last year marked the biggest yearly percentage increase in traffic deaths in five decades.
One of the main culprits? Distraction.
Specifically, our gadgets, and in particular, those that are intended for use in a moving vehicle. There is hands-free calling, which research has shown is no safer than use of handheld devices, despite the disparity in Florida law and in laws across the country. There is an app on Snapchat that allows drivers to post images of the the driver while recording his or her speed. There is an app called Waze that gives users points for immediately reporting traffic crashes and snarled traffic. Then of course there is the Pokemon Go app that has prompted drivers to search for virtual creatures along their route. All of this collectively amounts to a much different landscape of distraction than just a decade ago when we first starting talking about, “distracted driving.”
Back around 2005 or so, the nation was talking about how problematic it was that so many people were using their cell phones to send text messages. At the time, most people didn’t even have the smartphones we’re so familiar with today. Now, according to a Pew Research poll conducted in 2015, half of users say they, “couldn’t live without” their smartphone. Text messages continue to be the most popular feature, but internet use, video calls, email, video and music are also popular features. Continue reading →