Simone Virzi — News Writer
As technology becomes increasingly important in society, younger people are finding it harder to let go of their cell phones – even while driving.
Bridgestone tires recently conducted a survey amongst over 2,000 people between the ages of 15-21. The company found that one-third of participants admitted to reading text messages while driving.
Senior Summer Pichette texts while driving, but said she does realize it is dangerous.
“I’ve heard stories about people texting while driving and not focusing on the road,” she said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “more than 15 people are killed and more than 1,200 people are injured every day in crashes that were reported to involve a distracted driver.”
Pichette said her ex-boyfriend once told her a girl in his town was texting while driving and because she was not paying attention, she hit a truck. Her younger sister was in the car, but did not survive the accident.
The story showed Pichette “more people should be aware about texting while driving,” and referred to the story as “sad.”
Senior Mike Tweedie also said he texts while driving, but he tries to be careful.
“I do text and drive, however, I keep my responses short and I normally only text at red lights,” he said “I text while driving because texting at a red light is easier and less of a distraction than talking while driving.”
The Bridgestone survey also discovered 24 percent of the participants “do not believe that talking on the phone while driving is dangerous.”
Pichette said although texting and talking on the phone are bad, they are not equally risky.
“I don’t think it’s as dangerous as texting,” she said, adding while someone is talking on the phone, their “eyes aren’t glued to the phone.”
The survey also concluded “girls engage in distractions behind the wheel far more than boys.”
This conclusion may be accurate because according to Jon Bloch, chair of the sociology department and Ph.D., “some research shows that in general women tend to multi-task more than men.”
Although he was not familiar with the survey, Bloch said texting while driving is an issue, especially since public service ads try to discourage texting while driving.
“Teens and young adults often think they are invincible, and the possibility of death, like aging, seems a million light-years away,” he said. “Young people also like to tempt fate, and do things they have been told they should not do to see if they can get away with it without being harmed. This is called the boomerang effect. Someone says ‘Don’t do X,’ and so X is exactly what people do.”
According to the survey, “teenagers and young adults say their parents engage in distracted driving more than themselves.”
Pichette said sometimes her aunt puts make-up on while driving; but she does not know how her aunt can drive at the same time, since her eyes are not on the road.
Bloch also said this conclusion could possibly be accurate.
“It is also true that adults often do not behave in ways they should, so young people might also model their behavior on the example set by their parents or other adults,” Bloch said.
Pichette said teenagers, especially newer drivers, should be focusing on the road instead of texting – Bloch also agreed.
“Newer drivers are of course less experienced, and so are more likely to have care accidents,” Bloch said. “This is exacerbated when they also try to drive and multi-task.”
Since texting while driving “is a serious problem,” Pichette suggested the university should bring more awareness to the issue by holding events on campus.
“I think it would be beneficial because I haven’t been to or heard [about a program] like that,” she said.
Tweedie also said it is an issue that should be addressed.
“Texting and driving is an important issue and we need to educate the college kids on proper driving etiquette,” he said.