Texting and Driving is on the Rise – And We’re Surprised?

From a Associated Press article (“Texting while driving up 50% in U.S.“) published on the CBC today:

“New U.S. federal safety data shows texting while driving increased 50 per cent last year, despite a rush by states to ban the practice.”

Using mobile devices for things like texting while driving will continue to rise, despite laws in most regions of North America, including the Yukon. Why? There’s no stigma attached to the practice. In fact, it’s a socially-supported sport of sorts.

Among mature adults it’s a common conversational thread to boast about one’s texting-and-driving exploits. The juicier the near-miss, the more social points you score.

As an example, here’s a recent conversation I had with a friend:

Them: “I texted you like 6 times! Why didn’t you text back?”

Me: “I was driving.”

Them: “So?”

And it’s not hard to see through casual observation that mobile device use while driving has remained the same, if not increased, since the Yukon’s law took effect.

Here’s another quote for you:

“…research has demonstrated again and again that even chatting hands-free on a mobile phone impairs you more than driving drunk.”

I wrote that over two years ago in a column titled, “Only Morons Chat and Drive“. That was back in the day when it was all about talking on the phone while driving – texting and driving was unheard of. But like Conservatives voting on an anti-crime bill, nobody’s listening to the facts of the matter because now we’re doing both at every-increasing rates.

If laws don’t work, what’s it going to take to get people to quit a dangerous practice that poses a risk to their own safety, the safety of those people in the vehicle with them, and other motorists?

Basically, take the fun out of it. Stigmatize it like we do drinking and driving. If it’s not cool to text and drive, if the practice casts a social shadow instead of a spotlight, the practice will decline.

But as long as we’re patting each other on the back about it, we’ll text and drive all the more.