Tag Archives: Text Messages

Driven From Distraction To Danger

Inexperience added to distraction equals a massively dangerous drive time.

I’m going through my third mind-bending, adrenaline-scarring, foot-stomping, squeal-stuffing, expletive-deleting, smile-faking, terror-strangling trip through driver education just now, which might possibly mean I’m a bit sensitive to this sort of thing.

The thing is, distraction is a huge problem for drivers of all ages, not just the road newbies.

In addition to my oldest young dude, Sarcasmo, I also know a friend my age who, only a few years ago, was looking down at the radio while driving through a parking lot and — with mind distracted — rammed into a parked car. And the strangest thing was that, in both cases, the parked car actually jumped out in front of both drivers.

At least according to their stories. Regardless, allowing yourself to be distracted can be as dangerous as getting behind the wheel after downing a few adult bevies.

Distraction can be even more dangerous than drinking for new drivers because they’ve been told again and again not to drink and drive and, for the most part, they listen to that. How often have you told your young dudette not to look at the radio while driving? Or answer the phone?

There are plenty of new advertising campaigns that warn drivers of the dangers of texting while driving. I know several adults who have listened to that and now will not even read a text while stopped at a red light. I know even more teens who say they don’t, but then respond suspiciously quickly when texted while out.

That, my friends, is plenty dangerous.

An inexperienced driver who reaches for a cellphone increases the risk for a crash by more than 700 percent, a new study found.

Using accelerometers, cameras, global positioning devices and other sensors, researchers studied the driving habits of 42 newly licensed 16- and 17-year-old drivers and 167 adults with more experience. The machines recorded incidents of cellphone use, reaching for objects, sending text messages, adjusting radios and controls, and eating and drinking.

Eating while driving almost tripled the risk of a crash, while texting or looking at something on the side of the road nearly quadrupled that risk.

Distraction is dangerous.

Think of it this way. You’re in a rolling hunk of metal traveling down the road at a high rate of speed. This hunk of metal and plastic now has massive inertia and it’s held to the road by only four small pieces of rotating rubber. That’s it.

If you want to understand inertia, try holding a small weight in your hand and then spinning around. You’ll feel the weight pulling away from your spinning body. Now try to quickly stop spinning, or pull the weight straight up.

That fight against what you’re trying to do? That’s inertia. That’s inertia from a small weight and powered only by your spinning body.

Imagine tons of metal and plastic and glass, moving many, many, many times faster than your spinning body. Changing direction or stopping isn’t so easy with that, is it?

Because of that difficulty, it’s of upmost importance that drivers stay focused on the road ahead, behind and to the side, so they can react as soon as possible and get their vehicle under control.

Getting distracted by a text or a good song on the radio is every driver’s worst enemy because it can happen at any moment and will do so without your knowledge.

According to the study, older drivers only significantly raised their risk of an accident while dialing a phone. Not only that, drivers from every age group already spend 10 percent of their driving time looking at something off the road.

“When young people engage in tasks that take their eyes away from the roadway, they’re increasing their risk dramatically,” said the lead author, Charlie Klauer, a research scientist at Virginia Tech University. “Kids need to have their eyes forward. To add any other distraction into this is really increasing the risk.”

Have a talk with your young dudes and dudettes about driving without distractions today.

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To Sleep, Perchance To Text

I loves me some technology, dudes. I really does.

I still remember the thrill of connecting my first modem and actually seeing real-time words appear on the screen from someone all the way in California. (I was easily impressed in those days.) My first text was a thrill-a-word as well.

As the years have rolled into the past, I’ve kept up with the technology relatively well for an old(ish) dude. I use text when I can, know what most of the hip programs and apps are (even though I still use outdated words like hip) and, in general, am just about as connected as it’s a good idea to be.

Apparently, though, there are people who believe I’m a bit of a piker when it comes to the idea of an always-on connection.

The premed student sleeps with mittens on each night. Mittens, to protect herself from her phone. To render her fingers unable to send those unconscious messages that are as embarrassing as they are senseless.

Yup: She’s a sleep texter.

“It’s a phenomenon occurring with the younger generation,” says Elizabeth Dowdell, a nursing professor at Villanova University who shared the anecdote about the mitten-wearing student. “And it’s reflective of the significance of our smartphones — of these very powerful machines. Why would we turn them off?”

I know, right? I really thought it was a joke article in Business Insider, but then I remembered that this was published in Business Insider, which isn’t known for the hilarity of its content. Really I’m a bit astonished by this.

Most nights, I don’t sleep all that well. I’ll wake up from different things. Not that I’m saying anyone I sleep with every single night snores really, really loudly and causes me to wake up. Nope. I’m most sincerely not saying that. Very forcefully not saying that, in fact. Still, I don’t sleep all that well.

But the idea of waking up in the middle of the night, grabbing my phone and sending a tweet while still asleep? That’s astonishing. I mean, wouldn’t the bright light from the phone wake them up? Recent scientific studies have shown that bright lights during sleep time will actually wake people up. That is, if you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you’ll stay awake longer if you turn on the bathroom light, than you will if you simply grope your way to the toilet an then back.

These dudes and dudettes? Not really bothered by it as far as I can see. They’ll wake up, text or tweet, then go back to sleep, not remembering a thing about it in the morning. At least, not until they check their message history.

Dowdell initially learned about sleep texting when one of her students described her nighttime activities. After growing more intrigued, she surveyed 300 students, and learned that 25 to 35 percent had sent text messages while they were snoozing. And more than 50 percent admitted that their phone or other technology interfered with their sleep in some way.

That’s what’s worrisome, experts say. Sleep texting tends to occur during naps or about 90 minutes to two hours into the snoozing process, prior to entering a deep sleep. “Sleep is a very important restorative process,” says Josh Werber, a snoring specialist at EOS Sleep Centers in Long Island, N.Y. “And when we’re not fully engaged in it, and not getting the amount we need, we’re not having the same restorative effect on our brains. And that affects our cognitive ability the next day.”

For those worried they might be turning into a sleep texter, the best ideas to curb the behavior seem to be behavioral. Like the med student above, you could wear mittens to bed. Or you could simply move your phone somewhere it’s out of reach from your bed. Maybe a few weeks like that and you’ll have broken the habit.

As a parent, I’ve been pretty strict about making sure my young dudes don’t have their phones with them when they go to sleep. I’d not been worried about this, but, rather, them either talking or texting to someone until early in the morning or doing something else that prevents sleep. This just reinforces my thoughts that electronics like phones don’t belong in young kids’ bedrooms when they’re trying to sleep.

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It Can Wait. Or Else.

More American teens die from the result of texting than drinking.

Serious as a heart attack here, dudes. It’s not drinking and driving that is taking out our teens (although it is doing its share, no question), but, rather, it’s texting and driving.

Chilling new research from the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York suggests that texting while driving has become the number one cause of death amongst teenagers behind the wheel, surpassing drunk driving for the first time.

An estimated 3,000 teenagers die each year due to sending and receiving text messages while driving, as compared to the 2,800 who died due to drunk driving. Another 300,000 teenagers were injured via texting – a number again higher than the 282,000 injured due to intoxicated drivers.

This is bad, dudes. Appallingly bad.

I mean, really. Just how important is it to know that your friend laughed. Or knows which is the 11th letter of the alphabet.

To sound just like the advertising campaign started by AT&T and now endorsed by the four major cellphone carrier companies, It can wait!

Seriously. We as parents need to drill this into the heads our our teenaged drivers and, more importantly, the young dudes and dudettes who aren’t drivers yet, but will be soon.

The best way to teach these impressionable minds not to text and drive is by making sure you — VISIBLY — don’t mess with your phone when you drive. Talk to them. Lecture them. Show them newspaper articles or vids from the nets. . . Whatever it takes.

Texting is not worth someone’s life. It’s not worth my son’s life. It’s not worth your life. My wife. Anyone. It’s just a text. Heck, if it’s that important, pull over and stop before taking the text. If it’s that important, you’ll want to give it your full attention.

And, you know, it’s not just teenagers who are being stupid behind the wheel. I mean, it’s not like they have a monopoly on the practice, even though it might seem that way sometimes.

The researchers involved in the study suggest that the problem isn’t that texting behind the wheel is more dangerous than driving under the influence. The problem is that teenagers text far more often than they drink, especially while driving. Having more opportunities for accidents results in, predictably, more accidents.

Though the survey only took a look at the driving habits of teenagers, it would be safe to assume that texting while driving is just as dangerous to adults. A recent study by AT&T showed that nearly half of all adults text while driving– a rate even higher than amongst teens.

Do yourself a favor. Heck, do me a favor. Stay off the phone when you’re behind the wheel. Show your young dudes the right thing to do.

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