Texting and driving as a safety problem with a social underpinning

Check out this thought-provoking article from the Boston Globe about why texting and driving remains such a persistent problem. We all know that texting and driving can be dangerous (and by "all,"the article cites an amazing 94% figure from a federal survey about the number of people who know this is a risky practice). Yet we do it anyway, in large numbers. Why? The Globe posits:

It seems clear something powerful is at work,
overriding people’s knowledge that what they’re doing behind the wheel
is dangerous. To figure out what that something might be, psychology and
communications researchers around the world have started studying what
exactly is happening in our heads when we reach for a phone in the car.
What their research so far suggests is that texting and driving is
unlike any public safety issue we’ve dealt with before. It’s not like
the judgment error of drinking too much and deciding to drive home
anyway; it’s not like neglecting to put on your seat belt. That’s
because at the center of the problem, the experts say, is an entirely
new kind of object—the modern smartphone—that has become embedded in our
consciousness in a way that’s changing our behavior on a massive scale.

The article concludes that the solution might lie in changing social norms rather than merely telling the public what they already know — and are ignoring — about the dangers of texting and driving.

0 thoughts on “Texting and driving as a safety problem with a social underpinning

  1. Louise says:

    I am neither a psychologist nor a “communication researcher” [what is that? – AT&T or CNN…]but I have my own ideas as to why this mania is reaching pandemic proportions.
    1. Status symbol: not only do I have one, I have the latest model!
    2. Instant gratification: I can talk/text when I want and as loud as I want.
    3. Neurosis: excessive fear of isolation and need for communication at all cost
    4. Selfishness: Rules are for others, I can do what I want when I want to.
    5. Brain degradation: pollution of the hippocampus due to afore cited device.
    6. WORST OF ALL: Lack of enforcement of the law where it applies
    All this is very contagious in masses with diminished cerebration, and functioning on automation.
    Seriously, I have two examples of extreme cellphonitis.
    A.- Following a mega SUV which was meandering through both lanes and grazing on occasion, I decided to use my car horn to warn that I was going to overtake. As I did so, I realized why the driver seemed to be out of vehicular control. He held his cell phone in front of his face with both hands while steering the wheel with his elbows!
    I was not sure whether to report him to the local police or give him a thumb up for creativity.
    B.- I was on the zebra crossing coming out of a store with my cart when, apparently out of nowhere, a car rushed toward me and hit me. The cart swung me around and I found myself facing the driver’s door. Through the opened window, in a flash, I saw that she was texting as she turned her head and said: What are you doing here?!
    Words failed me as I fell down.

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