“Distracted Driving” Named Webster’s Word of the YearBy
No joke, “Distracted Driving” has been named the 2009 Webster’s Dictionary Word of the Year. A tribute to those so addicted to their crackberrys that they simply must text while driving. In fact, Driving While Texting has become such a profound issue, that it has spawned commentary, scholarly articles and increasing legislation nation wide. In one interesting study, insurance researchers found that drivers who are talking or texting on their hand-held cell phone would rather drive with no hands than put the phone down. It’s true, if a driver is holding a cell phone in one hand, and has a compelling need to use the other hand (scratch an itch, function the radio etc.) they are significanly more likely to remove the other hand from the steering wheel, rather than put their phone down. It all goes back to “engagement”, and it was found that most drivers are more “engaged” with their electronic communication than they are with the task of driving!
Unfortunately, all is not humorous with regard to this topic. Auto accidents are a leading cause of mortality for young drivers. This was true even before cell phones. Now these inexperienced drivers are increasingly distracted by their compelling need to communicate electronically, and the death tolls are mounting. Even more tragic is that a great many of these accidents end of harming completely innocent people. Remember the Amtrak train crash in September of 2008. 135 people were injured, 40 of them critical. 25 people were killed – and all because the engineer was texting while operating the train. The scary part is that even train operators will admit that driving a train is significantly less complicated than operating an automobile in traffic.
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