It’s impossible to find an industry that hasn’t been positively transformed by technology. For example, technology continues to bring many advantages to the modern world in the fields of medicine and science. Without these technological advances, hospitals wouldn’t have robot-assisted surgeries and early cancer detection methods wouldn’t exist.
We can thank computers for making these technologies possible. However, there’s a downside to all of it: addiction.
The world is addicted to technology
On one hand, societies rely on technology to thrive. The world of education, for example, relies on the internet and computers to make online courses available to people who can’t attend in person. A college offering online courses used to be considered a bonus, but now it’s expected.
Online education isn’t the only technological expectation society has. Since smartphones went mainstream, people have come to expect immediate responses to text messages, emails, and phone calls. It’s no longer acceptable to text, email, or call someone back the next day.
Smartphones – the devices that make instant communication possible – reside in people’s pockets, purses, and hands virtually all day long. Smartphone users are trained to check their notifications at the sound of every bell and buzz. There’s no excuse for not responding to someone promptly anymore. Excessive smartphone use is an addiction so common it goes unnoticed.
Smartphones have become part of daily life
Smartphone addiction has been so normalized, people don’t think twice about using their phone while driving. The New York Post quoted a spokeswoman for the Governors Highway Safety Association as saying “distracted driving is a ‘challenging behavior to break’ because much of it is linked to simple daily activities like remembering to call somebody while driving to the store.”
States have passed laws requiring drivers to use hands-free devices, but that’s only part of the solution.
Going hands-free doesn’t eliminate all distractions
“Hands-free devices may cause fewer accidents than drivers who text or use a hand-held device while driving, says Maison Law, but they do not prevent all accidents. Many cell phones still need to be tapped or swiped, removing attention… from the task of driving.” In other words, going hands-free doesn’t eliminate distractions. A distracted driver who rear-ends somebody or hits a pedestrian could still be charged with negligence, even if they were following the hands-free law.
There are two components to smartphone-distracted driving. The first component of distraction is having to divert attention from the road to touch the device. The second component of distraction is purely mental. For example, just being involved in a conversation (even hands-free) is enough to create a distraction. This should be obvious since having a conversation with a passenger commonly causes drivers to miss a turn or make a wrong turn.
The problem is more than distracted drivers
In 2017, 3,166 people were killed by distracted drivers; many of those drivers were distracted by cell phones. However, it’s not just people in cars losing their lives. Distracted pedestrians are getting injured and killed at an alarming rate. For example, a New Jersey woman was staring at her phone when she tripped over an open cellar door and fell in, suffering serious injuries. In Peru, a man was seriously injured when he fell into a manhole while using his phone.
Unfortunately, these types of incidents aren’t rare.
Smartphone distraction is an epidemic
ABC News reported on a town in New Jersey that started fining people for walking while texting. The segment shows video of a man walking into a wall, a woman falling into a water fountain, and a man who almost walks into a bear. According to Thrive Global, 80% of drivers witnessed pedestrians cross the street while looking down at their phones. And in 2017, over 90 people died from falling while taking a selfie from a dangerous position (like cliffs).
Think twice before gluing your eyes to your screen
Engaging in anything that’s going to distract you while driving or walking is a bad idea. Even if you don’t think you’re addicted to your smartphone, it’s a good idea not to use it when you need your full attention on other things. For instance, in America, you can make a right turn against a red light. Crossing any street without looking for cars making a right turn on a red light is asking for trouble.
Likewise, you don’t want to be the distracted driver who kills a pedestrian or a passenger in your vehicle. Think twice before using your smartphone. If you’re not sitting down or standing still, you should probably put it back in your pocket.
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer, and researcher. A graduate of Iowa State University, he's now a full-time freelance writer and business consultant.Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, and Forbes.com, among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter (@LarryAlton3), at LinkedIn.com/in/larryalton, and on his website, LarryAlton.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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