Essay Sample on Fear of Missing Out: How Teenagers Misuse Cell Phones Contribute to Vehicular Accidents

Published: 2023-08-23
Essay Sample on Fear of Missing Out: How Teenagers Misuse Cell Phones Contribute to Vehicular Accidents
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Electronics Automotive industry Healthcare Childhood Essays by wordcount
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1705 words
15 min read

Today as never before, individuals face the societal pressure to stay connected via mobile and other telecommunication devices. Among these telecommunication devices are smartphones that have become increasingly affordable, technologically advanced, super-interactive, and dependent on modern lives, enabled by the incorporation of mobile applications(apps). Therefore, it is no surprise that smartphone usage while driving is a growing problem, leading to distracted driving among teenagers. The social aspect of wanting to remain connected and the technological aspect form one of the major contributing factors of unintended injury and death in vehicle collisions. Being a significant contributor to vehicular accidents, distracted driving refers to completing a secondary task (Trivedi et al., 2017) capable of diverting attention or capturing the attention away from the driving task (Pope et al., 2017).

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Secondary tasks are typical behaviors with a higher prevalence among teenagers and emerging adults. Texting and other distracting cellphone activities such as social media usag within contemporary society have escalated the cases of vehicular accidents. Epidemiological naturalistic studies and driver simulators have provided compelling evidence that indeed smartphones and driving are a dangerous combination (Shevlin & Goodwin, 2019). While this evidence is present and the common belief among the drivers and society that this behavior is unacceptable, most of them still engage in it due to the fear of missing out.

Distracted driving is capable of impairing the driver's performance in various ways, such as adjusting the reaction time, meaning a person is likely to take longer to react to a critical situation. Distracted driving has also been found to reduce the driver’s awareness of the driving environment and to impair the ability of a majority of the drivers to maintain the lanes (Berenbaum et al., 2019). Teenager drivers are more vulnerable the distraction events because, their phone usually is buzzing with social activities and their driving inexperience is low (Li et al., 2018). The level of distraction is impacted by factors such as sex, where males (Kennedy et al., 2018) are likely to be more distracted than females. Additionally, factors such as race and ethnicity, mental factors, driving habits of the peers, and other social norms are a major contributor (Wiederhold, 2016). Most young drivers will access their phones for various reasons, including music, social media and texting, games, videos, and the internet (Kita & Luria, 2018).

The statistics indicating the dangers of smartphones use while driving is downright startling (Snyder, 2016). A 2016 report specifies that approximately 660,000 drivers (Parr et al., 2016) attempts to use their smartphones every minute they are driving, which has been proliferating with the increase in the phones' interesting features (Naletelich et al., 2019). The smartphone distractions are alarmingly high, and so are the road incidences resulting from the same (Seiler & Kirby, n.d.). From the general statistics, the national safety council reports that the smartphone's use leads to 1.6 million road incidences annually. At the same time, 390,000 injuries happen annually from accidents caused by texting while driving (TWD) (Hayashi et al., 2016). TWD is also six times more likely to lead to an accident than drunk driving, since answering a text message will divert the driver's attention for about five seconds (Snyder, 2016) and such a duration at an average of 55 miles per hour means having done more than a length of a football field. TWD can be termed as the most dangerous among other distracted driving activities because it increases the time spent off the road by approximately 400 percent (Seiler & Kirby, n.d.).

Motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) are the primary causes of fatalities among teenagers and also forms a leading cause of non-fatal injuries. This social condition's popularity is directly translated into driving (Carney et al., 2018). The category affected most are individuals are aged between 15 to 20 years contributing to about nine percent according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2015 (Parr et al., 2016). The underlying factor leading to the surge is the use of electronic devices while driving. The CDC report indicates that of all these road incidences, approximately 50 percent results to serious injuries while about 10 percent of these crashes causing instant deaths (Parr et al., 2016). According to Driving Statistics (2019), teens respond to text messages instantly, meaning, about nine out of ten teens replies to a text within five minutes or less (Wiederhold, 2016). To date, the factors that lead to this common distracted driving behavior are unknown (Naletelich et al., 2019). However, age, and personality traits can be hypothesized to contribute significantly to distracted driving among teens. The feeling of belongingness and social connection are highlighted as the reasons why teens use smartphones while driving (Braitman & Braitman, 2017). This aspect has a strong influence among teenage peers and accentuates communication's essentiality even in the face of danger (Kidd & Buonarosa, 2017). Among college students, the increased awareness of text driving dangers has close to zero influence on their possibility of text driving (Kidd & Buonarosa, 2017). Despite the improved awareness that picking a call is dangerous, the perceived importance of such a call makes teenager more inclined to speaking on the phone ultimately ignoring the associated dangers (Seiler & Kirby, n.d.).

In a study involving a cohort of 82 newly licensed teenagers averaging 16.48 years and a standard deviation of 0.33 (SD = 0.33), (Gershon et al., 2019), it was found that manual smartphone use escalated the possibility of a crash. The driver duration of eyes off the road attributed to about 41 percent of the crash-related with manual cellphone usage. Additionally, about ten percent of the risk of a crash occurred when the drivers attempted to reach a phone (Gershon et al., 2019).

The above statistics are already alarming. This is amidst the fact that smartphone usage is not slowing down but escalating at a faster rate (Hayashi et al., 2016). The phenomenon is elevated further because, vehicles are currently becoming increasingly technological with an average 2019 model having at least one interactive screen in front of a driver (Lukic et al., n.d.). Reports indicate that if the trend continues, by 2025, the number of people who will be texting will reach over 5.9 billion, and the texting addiction will rise consecutively. With technologies like 5G, it is possible that texting will be faster, especially via the internet, while other social activities like video calling will improve. The boosted technology will see about 77 percent of the global population using a phone. As such, society must be engaged in this phenomenon, particularly in addressing the associated dangers of TWD. Mass awareness needs to be done, especially on the teen, while encouraging them to speak up when they notice such behavior among their peers (Sezgin & Lin, 2019). Parents can lead by example, including talking to their teens of the dangers, avoiding and discouraging such usage when in or not in the company of the teens (Sezgin & Lin, 2019). Educators and employers can also assist by creating awareness and encouraging the teens to commit distraction-free driving or though setting strict policies on distracted driving.

Research and development play a key role in any field. Through research, facts supported by statistics are derived and used to prevent or improve a particular phenomenon. It is through studies that the above statistics have been obtained, and it is safe to say, use of telecommunication devices while driving is a dangerous combination, especially among teenagers. Despite these facts, TWD has escalated, an aspect that has been boosted by the incorporation of technology on vehicles. It is, therefore, critical for constant research to be done mainly because the usage is increasing as well as technology. This is one of the areas where facts and figures from last year might be irrelevant as technology seems faster than time. The areas researchers need to concentrate on is the correlation between the accidents, age, and technological improvements. With the increased usage of remote sensing, and obstruction sensors, and lane assist and sensors, the statistics from earlier might be deductive. Other areas that will need the researcher focus is the relationship between other obstructions, such as the car screen technology and accidents, to determine whether the incorporation is likely to increase the likelihood of such an occurrence.


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Lukic, J., Duboka, C., Belingardi, G., Stojan, I., Miroslav, D., Fiala, E., Wien, Gillespie...

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