Cell Phones And Distracted Driving


Presently, road crashes are to blame for nearly 1.3 million deaths annually, a worrying statistic that also results in additional 20-50 million injuries that, in some cases maim their victims (Smet & A, 2008, p. 8). Research into the primary cause of a majority of these cases points to that widespread use of cell phones as the main causative agent of this sorry state of affairs. For countries such as the United States, no state bans the usage of mobile phones, meaning that there are drivers who are increasingly using these devices while driving, in one way or the other. Problems often set in when an individual decides to engage in activities such as surfing the web, conversing over the phone, texting or checking their email while still operating their vehicle (In Yan, 2015, p. 67). It is from these activities that a phenomenon known as distracted driving emerges. It is clear that these persons lose the focus that one requires undertaking such an activity, which leads to the fatal accidents that we are now beginning to accustom ourselves on the contemporary world.

It is important to focus on this subject owing to the high number of cell phones that individuals possess around the world which could increase the likelihood of many people being victims of car crashes. Additionally, efforts by various governments to warn and advise the general public on the risk that cell phone pose seems not to work. The numbers of drivers who put their passenger’s lives in danger together with that of the entire community are increasing by the day, a reality that is very worrying to the relevant authorities (Kiesbye & Thomson Gale (Firm), 2012, p. 67). A study on cell phones and distracted driving will thus benefit stakeholders in the transport industries, drivers and the community as a whole due to the adverse effects that they often have in these groups. By so doing a new wave of men and women possessing relevant information about the adverse effects of using these gadgets will emerge and will be responsible for maintaining their safety, that of their passengers and the community as a whole. Moreover, this study will also matter to professionals from a wide array of disciples whose sole goal would be to continue that work currently exists.

Literature review

Houghton (2014) argues that for a long time, relevant authorities went ahead to blatantly ignore the direct connection that exists between cell phone users and the distraction it causes them when driving. He notes that in the United States, for instance, it is only twelve states (most notably Puerto Rico, District of Colombia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam) that prohibit drivers operating under their jurisdiction from texting while driving. Furthermore, the states forbid the drivers from using hand-held cell phones and require them to have hands-free systems (Bluetooth) if they are to make any form of communication via their phones. No state in the United States bans the use of cell phones while driving which is a shocking state of affairs considering the evidence that presently exists, linking them to distracted driving an increase in road accidents.

According to Kiesbye & Thomson Gale (2012) distracted driving is a major risk factor in perpetuating traffic accidents and traffic injuries. Within the past decade, mobile phone usage has become the largest source of many drivers’ distractions as they are known to shift their attention from the road and to their phones. Such behavior risks their lives and that of their occupant as it is common for such drivers to lose focus while on the wheel. Both researchers shift blame to the permissibility that society has for cell phone usage while driving and some even ignoring the fact that it can affect their level of concentration while on the road. A majority of the drivers treat the dangers that cell phone usage can have on them with sheer nonchalance while trivializing the effect that the trend might have on them and its connection to road accidents.

Regan (2009) opines that out of all the distractions that possibly occur when one is driving, cell phones top the list. The boom in mobile possession now poses an existential threat to its users, especially those who drive motor vehicles regularly. The ubiquity of these devices and their ‘addictive’ nature has seen many people completely dependent on them, a situation that often extends to their use while driving. Apart from distracted driving by cell phones killing people, it also costs tax payers billions annually, money that the government could use on other projects. It is the individuals that disregard this connection that is the real problem a vast majority of them do not believe that it s likely that their behavior might lead to fatality.

The insufficiency of existing works

            If there is one thing that most studies agree upon is that there is a connection between cell phone use and aspects of distracted driving. They also agree that it is this link that results in deadly accidents which can many attributes to human error. It is important to note that most of these studies are superficial as they do not explain the science behind the distraction that the driver experiences due to their cell phone use. These studies fail to give empirical scientific evidence why this situation and only touch on the aftermath. I intend to fill this void by explaining how cell phone use, while one is driving, will cause four mutually exclusive distractions; manual, auditory, visual and cognitive. Delving into these crucial areas would allow us to now explain this phenomenon in scientific terms and why distracted driving has been a leading cause of car crashes. With such knowledge, we are also able to understand the complex mechanism of the body and how interfering with its optimum functioning can have dire consequences, as is the case with cell phone usage.

A summary of the study

In theory, the study will focus on four mutually exclusive distractions that are crucial in the scientific explanation of cell phones and how they may end up distracting a driver; manual, auditory, visual and cognitive.  Visual distractions cause the driver of an automobile to look away from the road; manual distractions are making them remove their hands from the steering wheel, while the auditory distractions end up making sounds crucial to the driving and cognitive ones affecting their thought pattern (Riener, 2011, p. 78). Distractions that originate from cell phone use depreciate an individual’s driving performance and increase their frequency to change lanes and their reaction time.

The study will also explain the cognitive complexity that emerges when one attempts to talk on the phone while driving and why this particular action drains significant brain resources. Furthermore, the study breaks down the “multitasking” fallacy that is all too common in this contemporary world. A drive to increases efficiency makes it rather tempting for persons to use their cell phones while on the wheel, a move that more often than not leads to disaster. Most scientists are in agreement that, in reality, multitasking does not take place and if a person can complete both tasks, they occur in optimal effectiveness and focus (Galotti, 2014, p. 121). It is important to remember that multitasking is a myth as the human brain cannot perform to tasks consecutively.

The brain deals with the tasks that we present it with sequentially where it switches from one task to the next. The rapid juggling between the tasks can result in individuals believing that they are performing the tasks when in reality the brain is switching between the two. The hypotheses of the study are to create a framework that can bridge the gap between what happens in the human brain and the conclusions that individuals make during these critical moments. It is common for the brain to prioritize the information it receives to decide its next course of action that it intends to take and the attention it needs to pay while filtering out unnecessary information. It is for this reason that the driver of a car might not be aware which critical roadway is filtering out. Failure to encode information into the short-term memories impairs performance. It is also worthwhile mentioning that the brain is not known to processing such critical information, a reason why individuals miss essential information (Stewart, 2015, p. 46). To confirm these claims, a team of neuroscientists will perform tests on a control team with the results conforming with the notion held in the hypothesis.

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