E-mail can be a deadly habit….
A few months ago, an executive proudly explained to me how he holds his Blackberry with his thumbs and forefingers at the top of the steering wheel so that he can effectively read and respond to e-mail messages while on the road… I told him he was playing a dangerous game.
Last week, The Dallas Morning News reported that a Dallas citizen videotaped a DART bus driver texting while operating a public transportation bus. Two weeks ago, 25 people were killed in a commuter train crash in California, in which investigators have confirmed that the MetroLink train's engineer was texting while on the job and apparently missed a warning light signaling another train on the same track. It cost him his life, not to mention ruining 100s of others.
E-mail is convenient. E-mail is timely. It can be an immediate. Staying connected can be fun.
It can also kill you - or someone else...
Consider this… A recent survey by AOL reported that approximately 50 percent of respondents to said they have checked their email while driving. This is up from last year, when 37 percent of respondents said they engaged in this activity. In addition, according to a survey by FindLaw.com, answering text messages while driving is popular among individuals 18 to 24 years of age, with 48 percent texting while behind the wheel of car. In addition, 27 percent of drivers 25 to 34 years of age text while driving, and 19 percent of respondents who were 35 to 44 years of age admitted to texting while driving.
A new study done by the Transport Research Laboratory for the British Royal Automobile Club Foundation appears to confirm that texting behind the wheel can be more dangerous than driving while under the influence of alcohol.
It used to be that people feared being on the road after midnight, because chances were that one out of every two drivers coming at them could be under the influence of alcohol. With these trends, it's not just about the wee hours anymore. If the AOL study is true, it could be that one out of every two drivers coming at you any time during the day could be texting while driving.
Researchers observing drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 found their reaction was slowed by 35 percent when they were writing or reading text messages. That's more than twice the slowed reaction time after drinking alcohol.
The British study also found texting drivers were less able to maintain safe distances from other cars and tended to drift out of their lanes.
Does this cause concern for anyone out there?!!
We are regularly putting ourselves — not to mention others — in harm’s way by checking our email when we need to be concentrating on something else.
Although some state legislators are starting to address this, with at least five states already prohibiting all drivers from using hand-held phones, and 24 more have considered similar legislation, let's just remember that you can't legislate common sense.
Because of the proliferation of email, don't let yourself get sucked into feeling compelled to keep up with electronic communication while performing other tasks, including driving.
Individuals, friends, relatives, parents, and employers can do more to prevent these senseless accidents and deaths while driving. What we really need to do is stop, think, and get control of ourselves, our loved ones and our co-workers. We need to stop putting our desire to stay connected and our obsession with technology above our basic need for safety.
The cost can be catastrophic. Resolve now to stop reading or tapping while driving, and to be adamant with others around you to do the same. No tolerance. It could be deadly, like it was for those 25 victims in California.
For the Transport Research Laboratory report, visit http://www.racfoundation.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=577&Itemid=35.
For more information on FindLaw’s survey, visit http://www.findlaw.com/.
To read the complete AOL Study, visit http://o.aolcdn.com/cdn.webmail.aol.com/survey/aol/en-us/index.htm.
For the Dallas article, view http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/092308dnmetdarttext.9fc516b7.html.