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'Cell Phone Usage While Driving' by Nathanial Kern

Cell Phone usage while driving has become a safety risk epidemic that stretches across the entire nation. Although research has shown that the younger generations are more apt to use cellphones while driving vehicles, the fact of the matter remains that the wide spread use of cellphones while driving has led to accidents and deaths on the roads that make up our ground travel systems. To make the roads safer to this end, it is important to know the dissemination of cell phone usage across different age groups and ethnicities, the stastics backing how cell phone usage while driving causes distracted driving issues, and the methods that are being used to help resolve these cellphone related distracted driving issues.

In 2010, Nielsen company showed the penetration of cell phones in the market through ethnicity. According to the research conducted by Nielsen 30% of Caucasians used smart phones while 70% used feature phones, 39% of African American's used smart phones as compared to 61% using a featured phone, 53% of Hispanics used smart phones while 47% used feature phones, and 48% of Asian's used smart phones as compared to 52% of Asians that used feature phones. The reason why this information is important to know is because it tells through statistics where the data phone usage may correlate to cellphone related distracted driving accidents, which will possibly be more pronounced for individuals depending on their ethnicity. This study also shows ethnic divides across the cell phone usage market. However, understanding the divide is only part of the problem. According to the NHTSA, “Drivers in their 20s are 23 percent of drivers in all fatal crashes, but are 27% of the distracted drivers and 38% of the distracted drivers who were using cell phones in fatal crashes.” The NHTSA goes on to say that, “the percentage of drivers text messaging or visibly manipulating hand-held devices increased from 1.7% in 2013 to 2.2% in 2014. Since 2007, young drivers (age 16 to 24) have been observed manipulating electronic devices at higher rates than older drivers.” With this information in mind, it becomes easier to correlate how distracted driving, in accordance with age, relates to cell phone usage among younger drivers. These statistics allow the researcher an element of understanding into the age groups through which the different types of distracted cell phone driving takes place. Furthermore, it disseminates what age category (younger drivers) are more likely to crash vs. the age category (20 somethings) of individuals that are going to be involved in fatal car crashes. Finally, this vital information allows one to start digging into the research backing how cell phone usage, while driving, causes distracted driving issues.

Erie Insurance's study said it best when it stated that a, “distracted driving survey reported that drivers do all sorts of dangerous things behind the wheel including brushing teeth and changing clothes. The survey also found that one-third of drivers admitted to texting while driving, and three-quarters saying they've seen others do it.” The disturbing undertone of this survey sets the stage for how cell phones cause serious issues when it comes to distracted driving. The facts of this issue are further highlighted by a pew center study that found that more than 53% of all adult cellphone owners have either caused or been the victim of a distracted driving walking encounter. These two reasons alone are why it is very important from a safety standpoint to be aware of the affects that cell phones have in the distracted driving arena. Not only do they harm the individuals driving on the roads, but also innocent pedestrians who could become victims of distracted driving caused by cellphones. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute further supports this fact that there is a safety-critical event risk correlation found in individuals involved with a visual-manual sub-task while driving. These tasks included looking at or touching a cell phone, reaching for the phone, dialing, texting, etc., according to the VITI study. However, understanding the safety concerns hiding beneath the surface of the issue is the first step, towards figuring out a resolution for the issue of cellphone usage that causes distracted driving.

The Department of Transportation in 2014 launched a national distracted driving enforcement and advertising campaign fact sheet. They used these testing grounds to combat the growing trend of texting and driving among individuals with cell phones. This campaign was probably launched as a result of the success of pilot programs that took place such as the one in Hartford, CT and Syracuse, NY. According to this program conducted in part by the Department of Transportation, it was revealed that drivers using hand-held cell phones while driving dropped 57% in Hartford and 32% in Syracuse, as a result of harder consequences brought against those using cellphones in these areas. It is efforts like these that have been essential for increasing the safety of drivers in vehicles from the dangerous environments brought on while using a cellphone and driving. Furthermore, as of May 2015, according to distraction.gov, 46 states have banned text messaging for all drivers. This is one of the many steps that is being taken to increase safety on the roads in relation to distracted driving as it is associated with texting. 14 of these states have banned all types of cell phone usage while driving. Now, according to this data, these laws are being implemented to cover safety concerns related to cell phone usage and distracted driving overall. Unfortunately, at this time there hasn't been a break down by age or ethnicity or both, as there has been in statistics, that works towards figuring out safety solutions to cell phone related distracted driving on a more localized level. But, each of these moves by the Department of Transportation, and the enacting of cell phone targeting laws on the state government level, pushes society closer to a more safety driven environment, when it comes to cell phones and distracted driving concerns.

In conclusion, the statical evidence for dangerous situations related to safety vs. cellphones vs distracted driving, has gathered a lot of traction in the last 6 years. By identifying cell phone safety concerns related to distracted driving such as those found in age statistics, ethnic statistics, and road statistics, government agencies are able to begin compiling solutions to these problems. These solutions in turn increase the safety of both drivers and pedestrians. Therefore, it is necessary to repeat a statement made earlier in this piece. To make the roads safer to this end, it is important to know the dissemination of cell phone usage across different age groups and ethnicities, the stastics backing how cell phone usage while driving causes distracted driving issues, and the methods that are being used to help resolve these cellphone related distracted driving issues. By understanding these finer statistics of cellphone usage and how cellphones creates a distracted driving environment, our society as a whole will be able to make drivers, pedestrians, and the very roads that we use for travel safer, for everyone involved.

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