California's Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) has some bad news to deliver for anyone who wants to stay safe on the road: the amount of drivers who talk or text on their cell phones has risen 39% over the last year. That's a serious jump, which may be explained, experts say, by our growing dependence on smart phone technology as well as our confidence that we can multitask, even when driving. Yet despite this carefree attitude toward using phones behind the wheel, it remains a serious danger. If statistics on distracted driving continue to tick upward, then we can only expect an increase in accidents, some of them fatal.
Distracted driving is a problem and a hazard not just for drivers themselves, but for everyone around them. Just this week in Sacramento, a driver suspected of texting while behind the wheel hit and killed a 33-year-old man and injured his 8-year-old son, both of whom were on bicycles. The deceased bicyclist and his son were even riding in the bicycle lane, but that didn't stop the driver from veering off the street and into their path. As this incident likely proves, texting while driving puts lives at risk. When tragedy strikes, the loss can be irretrievable. OTS spokesman Chris Cochran had this to say:
We know people actively texting can take their eyes off the roadway for five seconds or more, and it is so easy to drift out of your lane and cause tragedies like what happened over the weekend.
Cochran went on to observes that drivers think they can handle texting behind the wheel, "when in reality, they can't." Smart phones may be both convenient and necessary for our fast-paced everyday lives, but using it in the car is a recipe for disaster. We simply don't have the ability to manage two complex technologies at once when one mistake could mean serious injury or even death. So remember that texting, emailing, calls, etc. aren't ever worth your life, nor of those around you. A child in Sacramento lost his father this week, likely due to distracted driving. It's easy to prevent this foreseeable tragedy - put the phone aside and focus on the road.