The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday on the ‘epidemic issue’ of drivers distracted by their smartphones. In response, auto insurers are raising rates for everyone.
And its not just texting. Insurer surveys show that in 2015, 29% of drivers admitted to accessing the internet while driving compared to only 13% in 2009. Among drivers aged 18 to 29, that rate increases to 54%–only 10% less than the percent in that age group who merely text while driving.
Insurers blame the increases on rising use of smartphones and apps (like Facebook). Allstate President Matthew Winter noted that cell phones were “not as distracting as…when people brought smartphones into the car and began texting and web surfing and videoing and everything else while they were driving.”
The result is that after years of declining car crashes and fatalities, both wrecks and deaths are on the rise.
I can’t speak for everywhere, but this is definitely happening in the Jackson area. Drive around Jackson during the lunch hour and you will repeatedly see drivers on their cell phones. And I don’t mean talking or even missing the green light cycle in a turn lane because they spent the whole time looking at their phone.
People are looking at their phone screen and pressing buttons while driving down busy streets. This seems particularly bad on city streets. My guess is that idiots think its okay because they aren’t going that fast.
Drivers who are too lazy to pair their phone to their blue tooth are also a hazard when they try to make turns with one hand on their wheel and one hand holding the phone to their ear. But at least those idiots are looking where they are going.
I’m about ready to give up on this problem. The legislature can pass anti-texting bills, but it does not stop the tide of smartphone addiction. It’s going to take a culture shift like when people started wearing seat belts and got serious about drunk driving. It will happen….one day. But until then, this problem will get much worse. It’s an addiction. People just can’t stop looking at their phones.