We've all been there: stuck in an interminable traffic jam, inching forward at a snail's pace. It's irritating to be caught up in a line of cars with no exit ramp in sight. Many people turn to their cellphones in order to lower their frustration through texting, surfing or gaming. Initially, this form of escape may alleviate boredom until one glance too long at the phone causes a car accident. Afterwards, that form of escape may lead to a police ticket, a fine and an increase in insurance rates.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), "10 percent of fatal crashes, 18 percent of injury crashes and 16 percent of all police-related motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2014 were reported as distraction-affected crashes." "Distracted driving" is an umbrella term that can refer to a number of practices that limits the driver's full attention: eating, changing radio stations and talking with passengers in the vehicle; however, most people equate distracted driving with inappropriate cellphone use.
Safety experts say that texting while driving is such a dangerous form of distraction because it requires the completion of a variety of tasks to send a text: reading the text, thinking of a response and keying in the response. Another mistake distracted drivers make while texting and driving is their failure to gauge long a text takes to compose and send. While it may take only 10 seconds to locate the perfect emoji to send to a friend, a lot can happen in ten seconds when traveling at 65 mph.
Legislators in North Carolina have responded to this safety issue by passing strict anti-texting laws. In an attempt to reduce the impact of distracted driving on North Carolina motorists, passengers, bicyclists and pedestrians, the state of North Carolina has banned texting and reading electronic messages for all drivers.
Additionally, drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using cellphones to make calls when they are operating a vehicle. The reason for this mandate can be found in another NHTSA report on distracted driving: 10 percent of novice drivers involved in fatal car accidents were distracted as they were driving. Novice drivers, those under the age of 20, were responsible for the highest percent of car crashes caused by distracted driving when compared with drivers in other age groups.
For drivers older than 18, using a cellphone to make calls, provide directions via GPS navigation or stream music is not banned. Those found texting while driving will have to pay a $100 fine and fees associated with court costs.
Inching through a traffic jam may be boring, but giving your fellow drivers your full attention can save lives and money when you just shut the phone down.