Destination Distraction


A Mercy junior takes her eyes off the road for several seconds in order to check a text, increasing her chances of a crash by 23 times.

The verdict is in and the message is clear: distracted driving is a serious threat.  A new study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has quantified the risks associated with various cell phone activities and has concluded that dialing a telephone number while driving is the most dangerous activityreports The Week.

The study, which involved monitoring 109 experienced drivers and 42 new drivers, has shown that the probability of a crash for experienced drivers who try to dial a number is two and half times greater than if they were focusing on the road. However, for the new drivers, the risk of a crash is more than eight-fold. The explanation: new drivers are not good at multi-tasking while driving.

For the new Mercy drivers that use their phones extensively, these numbers should be alarming.

The risk of a crash for novice drivers who text is almost four times greater.  In fact, the study shows that just reaching for a phone increases the risk of crash or near crash for new drivers.

Junior Catherine Vaitas, who is concerned about texting and driving, believes that anyone who texts and drives is putting themselves and others at risk.

“Even if you are not doing anything wrong, your life is endangered because of other people’s selfish decisions,” said Vaitas.

In order to ensure safety, junior Amelia Dahmer recommends either waiting or pulling over to a safe and secure area.

“Whatever you have to say isn’t that important,” said Dahmer.  “If you are dying to reach someone, pull over and send them a text.”

Ultimately, not paying attention to the road while driving poses dangerous consequences. According to the Federal Communications Commission’s website, eleven percent of drivers aged 18 to 20 who experienced a car accident and survived admitted they were involved with texting when they crashed.

“Driving is something that requires your full attention, so anything really that takes your attention off of it can be dangerous,” said Vaitas.  “You may not see pedestrians crossing the street, a light change, or a car stop suddenly, which can not only endanger your life, but the lives of others.”