Dangers of texting and driving

In an attempt to curb the dangerously high trend of drivers texting while behind the wheel, doctors are being asked to question patients

In an attempt to curb the dangerously high trend of drivers texting while behind the wheel, doctors are being asked to question patients about their cell phone use while driving during physical exams.

Presumably, doctors will add “Do you use your cell phone while driving?” To the list of standard medical exam questions that already includes, “Do you drink? Do you smoke? How much sleep to get each week?”

It’s an interesting approach to an even more interesting problem.

What remains to be seen is if it will work. In any case, it’s clear that something needs to be done about this growing problem.

Driving and texting, it should go without saying, is a dangerous activity.

Taking your eyes even for a second can result in deadly consequences.

Who among us hasn’t heard from someone, if we haven’t been in the situation ourselves, where a driver hit some form of wildlife on the highway?

“It was suddenly right in front of me, I had no time to react,” is something commonly heard from these drivers.

And these are drivers who are paying attention. Just imagine what can happen when people aren’t.

Despite enacting distracted driving laws, extensive public safety campaigns, and advocating from police and other protective services, people continue to text and drive. Texting and driving is becoming almost as problematic as drinking and driving, yet another problem that we have yet to find a solution for.

While drinking and driving has been around since the invention of the motor-vehicle, texting is a fairly new driving problem.

What the two issues share in common is that no one has found a solution for either of them yet.

It seems that no matter how much publicity we give these issues, they continue to exist. No matter how many public safety advertisement campaigns are run on TV depicting the bloody consequences of drinking and driving or texting and driving, the issues still exist.

What will it take to get people to finally stop doing these things?

As yet, this question continues to have no answer. However, it seems some progress is being made.

Not long ago, Alberta introduced the new distracted driving laws which prohibit, among other things, the use of handheld electronics like cell phones while driving.

Even more recently, the province introduced stiffer penalties for driving between a blood alcohol level of 0.05 and the legal limit.

While these laws haven’t existed in Alberta long enough to produce any numbers so we can tell if they are working, research in other parts of the country suggest it does.

That is to say, stiffer penalties do reduce the number of drunk and distracted drivers on the road, but we still aren’t at a point where we have obliterated the problem entirely.

While it seems what we are doing is working, it is clear that more needs to be done to solve these problems.