If there were a list of life-altering technology, the cell phone would certainly rank within the top 10. Mobile devices allow us to work, communicate, and learn anywhere at any time. With 95% of Americans owning a cell phone, we’re more connected to each other than ever before. Cell phones are undoubtedly an incredible gift to modern society. However, ubiquitous usage has become a bit of a problem.
The Cell Phone Epidemic
It’s reported that the average phone user checks their phone 35 times per day. Users spend roughly 3.6 hours a day on their phone and 44% of Americans surveyed said they would experience high anxiety if their phone went missing for a week or more. The problem isn’t the amount of time Americans are spending on their phones. The problem is where and when they are using it.
Too many of us fall into the trap of texting or talking while driving. A staggering 56% of parents admitted to using their mobile devices while behind the wheel. Alas, it should come as no surprise that distracted driving is one of the leading causes of auto accidents in the US. In fact, it’s estimated cell phone usage accounts for at least 28% of all road accidents. Reducing the number of annual car accidents is a matter of getting drivers off of their phone, but how can that be accomplished when mobile devices have become an extension of our very selves?
What If Cars Were Dead Zones?
The answer to our cell phone issues may require the modification of the vehicles we drive. No one is currently proposing that cars be made dead zones, but the technology is available to cut out cell reception while behind the wheel. A company called Access 2 Communications currently manufactures hardware known as TextBuster. When TextBuster is placed under the dash of the vehicle data is disrupted so that texts and internet browsing remain unavailable while driving. TextBuster cannot block calls due to US laws against phone jammers, but maybe blocking texts and data is sufficient enough.
In an ideal world there would be no need to modify vehicles. There are plenty of apps like Divesafe.ly and Drive Safe out on the market that will block texts and auto-respond so your focus can stay on the road. However, those apps require willpower to download and remain activated. It’s alarming that 88% of drivers feel threatened by drivers using their phones, yet 67% of those same drivers continue to use their phones. Our willpower to avoid the temptations of a mobile phone may not exist and technology like TextBuster would eliminate that temptation entirely.
Humans are simply not biologically wired to pay attention to more than one stimuli at a time. Multitasking does not work and attention must be focused on the road at all times. If we implemented technology to combat distracted driving into our vehicles we could effectively prevent 1.6 million accidents per year. The question of whether or not this kind of technology should be integrated into vehicles becomes a matter of precedence. Is it more valuable to save 8 lives a day, or to be able to receive your calls and texts while driving?
Entertain the idea for a moment. What do you think? Should this kind of technology be packaged into the cars we drive?
Arkansas injury attorney Alan LeVar is managing partner of the Law Offices of Alan LeVar. He has over 20 years of experience practicing law in Arkansas. When not practicing law he spends time with his wife and four children.