What Will It Take?

By Debbie Hersman

Texting while driving
Electronic devices don't belong behind the wheel.

Today, the NTSB held a public meeting about an accident last year in Philadelphia when a tugboat/barge combination collided with a sightseeing duck boat. Two Hungarian foreign exchange students died because a distracted operator was on his cell phone and using a laptop when he should have been focused on navigating the vessel.

Those young people are not the first who have died because someone was distracted. Sadly, they will not be the last. What is it going to take — how many of our friends, neighbors, and loved ones have to die – before this country wakes up to the very real risk of distractions, particularly those associated with personal electronic devices?

Even with company policies, widespread public education campaigns and, in some places, laws to minimize distractions like cell phone use, many people continue to think, “I’ll make this quick call or I’ll send a brief text message.”

How do we as a country change this mindset?

Today’s electronic age has made people accustomed to being connected 24/7. We don’t know what it is like to be unavailable or turned “off” anymore. But we must find a way to change this paradigm when it comes to transportation because, frankly, the distractions are only going to get worse.

We have reached the point where it’s time for society to frown upon texting, cell phone use, and similar distractions at the wheel/helm/controls and convey that this behavior is just as unacceptable as driving under the influence.

Enough is enough.

2 thoughts on “What Will It Take?”

  1. In order to penetrate the message deeper, I think it needs to incorporate the same philosophy as drinking and driving: Make it more of a social stigma. “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” was a powerful message that seemed to play a significant role in further reducing drunk driving.
    ‘Friends don’t let friends text and drive” could do the same for the distracted driving dilemna. While it may not prevent the individual driver from texting while driving, it could certainly restrain drivers from texting when other passengers are in the car. Friends, family members, etc. need to play a bigger role in ensuring the driver of the car is not being distracted. Their lives are also at stake!

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