Everyone loves the picture I posted of you

Bob Hatcher

August 10, 2015

          On August 5th as I drove into Atlanta from Tiger, I read an over-the-highway notice telling me that on the highways of Georgia thus far this year the number of traffic deaths is right at 750.  This number goes up by just over 3 deaths each day.

          Do auto accidents and deaths concern you? Does it remind you to fasten your seatbelt before you turn the ignition on?  Do you think of someone you know and love who was in a horrendous accident? 

          If you watch much television you have probably seen this ad: “Everyone loves the picture I posted of you” says a mom looking over at her adorable toddler sitting in the back in a car seat. She is showing her daughter the cute picture of her on her cell phone that she has just texted to three friends. The next sequence in the ad next shows a terrible accident from which one would guess there would be few if any survivors.

          Texting while driving is so dangerous because it is a triple whammy of trouble. It involves all three of the most important distractions from driving:

  • Visual distraction meaning that this mom’s eyes were off the road
  • Manual distraction meaning that this mom’s hands were off the wheel and
  • Cognitive distraction meaning that this mom’s mind was off of driving

          That’s a dangerous set of distractions. Far more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol, talking on a cell phone,  eating a snack or being in a conversation with someone in the car.

          23% of auto collisions in 2011 involved cell phone texting and crashes are 23 times more likely to occur when a person is texting on a cell phone while driving. Dialing a number on one’s cell phone leads to a 2.8 increased risk of an accident while talking or listening leads to a 1.3 fold increase of a crash. Reaching for a cell phone leads to a 1.4 increased risk of an accident. Of all cell phone related tasks texting is by far the most dangerous.

          The problem of texting while driving is particularly problematic for 16 to 18 year old drivers, 82 percent of whom have cell phones. 52% of them have talked on their cell phone while driving and 34% have texted while driving. Each year 3,000 teen deaths are among teens who were texting while driving exceeding the 2,700 teen deaths from drunk driving.

          Often teens see their parents text while driving. Those parents are inadvertently teaching their teens what to do. Parents texting their children and expecting their children to return the text in as little as 1 minute are also causing some of the mayhem related to teen texting. (Boston based Liberty Mutual Holding Company AND Students Against Destructive Decisions).

          Thoughtful and wise use of cell phones is a priority for everyone.

          Life can change or end in an instant so post those pictures carefully and thoughtfully.        

Bob Hatcher