Steering Wheel and Smartphone: A Deadly Combination
Smartphones have simplified people’s lives in many ways. We can shop, book tickets online, access directions, and traffic updates in real-time while simultaneously texting someone. Smartphones are great devices when it comes to saving time by multitasking. However, our reliance on smartphones must have some limits. Those restrictions should be set by ourselves and by the manufactures of these phones. Danger lurks behind the fanciful “apps” suggested by cell phones.
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The news is riddled with reports of how looking at a picture or for directions, or sending a text message has become a driver’s final act because they were doing that while they were driving. Moreover, distracted driving puts the lives of passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians at risk. I do not doubt that using a phone while driving is as dangerous as drunk driving for several reasons: distracted drivers attempt to multitask and in so doing, cause accidents, hurt themselves and finally, cause harm (often fatal) to other people. Therefore, I believe that cell phone makers and companies providing wireless connection bear the responsibility of preventing the devices from being used by drivers in illegal and dangerous ways.
In his article “Phone Makers Could Cut Off Drivers. So Why Don’t They?”, Matt Richtel discusses the ability of phone manufacturers to eliminate drivers’ access to their devices while on the road. Violating the rules of limited use of phones by drivers indeed leads to a “grisly picture” (Richtel). A growing number of news reports depict the disastrous outcomes of texting or talking on the phone while driving. People think that they can “handle” everything, but in fact, multitasking causes more stress than convenience.
Stress leads to distraction, which, in turn, can lead to drivers committing crimes through a lack of attention to their driving. Each person should realize that even a brief, relatively small distraction can cause an irreversible outcome. To the end of their lives, neither the victims’ loved ones nor the driver will be able to cope with the tragedy that resulted. Therefore, drivers should have one of two options: either to drive or to communicate.
The assertion that driving and texting or talking on the phone is harmful is not a new one. Even the companies that produce mobile phones admit that their products can be employed for “illegal, dangerous, and sometimes deadly activity” (Richtel). Despite a variety of advertisements designed to warn drivers, people ignore common sense and crave to their obsession with the devices, which frequently leads to accidents. Unfortunately, acknowledging the problem is not enough. Basic social responsibility calls for direct resolution, yet smartphone corporations are afraid to introduce limitations for fear that these new regulations will decrease consumers’ loyalty and sales (Richtel). However, the cost of living in a capitalist society should not be the lives of others.
Indeed, the most egregious tragedy is not people hurting themselves but the damage caused to the innocent victims. Numerous cases of negligent driving that led to people’s injuries or deaths have been reported (Richtel). Technology can and must be adjusted in a way that would not allow drivers to put anyone’s life—including their own—in danger. The loss of customer loyalty is a far less price to pay than damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. The multitasking ability that smartphones give us also presents the false impression that we are almighty. However, we simply are not. We are human beings who have only two hands and one head. When driving, our heads should be focused on the road, and both hands should belong on the wheel.
While Matt Richtel explores the reasons why phone companies refuse to implement blocking technologies, David Leonhardt reveals the horrific statistics related to deaths that occur due to inattentive driving. In his article “A Public-Health Crisis That We Can Fix,” Leonhardt paints a frightening picture of the numerous accidents that take away the lives of innocent citizens when drivers prefer their comfort to someone else’s life.
The author uses a puzzle given by Guido Calabresi, a legal scholar, and federal judge, to his students (Leonhardt). The riddle is this: Would you sacrifice one thousand lives in exchange for an extremely smart technology that would make everyday existence much more comfortable and exciting? When students answer the question (and the answer has almost always been “no” over three decades of Calabresi’s teaching), their professor poses another: “What is the difference between this and a car?” (Leonhardt).
In this introduction, Leonhardt leads the audience to the sad but disturbing issue of using smartphones while driving and the consequences brought about by such behavior. I agree with the author that he does not consider banning phone use while driving to be the best possible option. In agreement with Richter, Leonhardt thinks that the greatest problem is not in the device itself but people getting distracted (Leonhardt). At present, it is up to every driver to decide whether to use these devices, but statistics show that neglecting cautionary measures frequently leads to fatal outcomes.
No matter what people are advised to do unless some strict policies are implemented, the situation will likely not change for the better. Therefore, to stop a huge number of accidents caused by inattentive drivers, phone makers must take some action. Technology is causing the problem, and it should be involved in the solution. For instance, Apple and wireless phone companies might introduce a special mode for drivers that is similar to airplane mode—a driving mode (Leonhardt). With its help, all but a few harmless options would be turned off when the car is moving.
Both Richtel and Leonhardt agree that smartphone makers’ unwillingness to install such a mode means that they consider comfort more significant than safety. This state of affairs seems unacceptable, and public awareness concerning the issue is growing. Indeed, if these companies have the opportunity to prevent people from “making a terrible problem worse” and save many lives as a result, it is preposterous of them not to do so (Leonhardt). In this light, the product liability lawsuits filed by the families of victims (Richtel) are likely to grow in number. Unfortunately, until the government takes action on this matter, these suits have little chance of success.
It is undisputed that technology has made our life easier. Still, an easier life does not negate responsibility. Both the consumer and the technology giants have a responsibility to foresee and mitigate the risks presented by the technological advances of smartphones. Every person has the right to operate his or her devices. However, individuals are not entitled to make themselves comfortable at the cost of other people’s wellbeing. Smartphone companies have no right to profit from the risk of the harm their technology presents to others. Thus, the legislation should void Apple’s lockout patent since it was never launched, and the technology should be legally mandated in every cell phone.
It is no news that smartphone producers have the power to shut off the phones while driving. What is surprising and even appalling is that they believe that their profit is more important than people’s lives. Thus, even if someone’s phone may unintentionally be turned off during a ride, it is a small price to pay in comparison with people’s health and lives. Statistics and the broken lives of many families are the best and saddest proofs of how wrong it is to pursue profit and neglect people’s safety.
Leonhardt, David. “A Public-Health Crisis That We Can Fix.” The New York Times. Web.
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Richtel, Matt. “Phone Makers Could Cut Off Drivers. So Why Don’t They?” The New York Times. Web.