When I was a child mobile phones did not exist, we used to jump on our bikes and disappear with our mates for hours enjoying life. We only headed home when we were hungry. I don’t ever remember our parents saying “I wish I was be able to track you during the day” or expressing the need to ring us to ask “What are you doing?“.
When I learnt to drive mobile phones still did not exist, I used to survive the daily drive to work, the night out at the movies or the weekend away at the beach without any concern about ‘not having a phone’ or ‘how will anyone get hold of me’.
In the late eighties, my mum had one of the first mobile phones installed in her vehicle as she used to deliver the rural post; it was a monster of a thing with a huge battery pack and heavy handset. Although she used it often for work she never saw the need to call ‘us’ on it!
Mobile phones did eventually become more common and over the years have shrunk in size, then grown again, they lost their keys and become smart.
The way we used to recognise the different models of cars growing up has transitioned into spotting what model of phone someone has based on the miniscule changes that the vendors make each year in an attempt for upgrades by loyal followers.
The biggest change however is the relationship that we have with our phone; smartphones have seen the intimacy levels between people on a face to face level almost disappear whilst the finger to screen relationship has increased exponentially.
Before smartphones and social media exploded in popularity, we used mobile phones in times of emergency and we would make the odd call or text. Messages were received on an occasional basis from our half a dozen friends rather than the now constant stream from our 1000+ social media close friends.
Our sensors are bombarded, and our appetite is such that we crave more and more, we can no longer leave our phone alone while we watch TV, go for a walk or drive to the supermarket, our smartphones are now a permanent appendage to our anatomy. If it is not pinging to announce an incoming very important must read message from friend #987, or must watch YouTube cat video from friend #377, or a reminder to feed our animals in the farmyard game, we become concerned and think there must be something amiss so we start to scan the phone to check and double check just in case the phone is not working or the connection is on zero bars.
Is this the stuff of addiction or love?
Warning – Beware of the Killer Smartphones!
Headlines warn of the danger, the problem is big, we need to make some serious changes because our smartphone appendage is responsible for killing people.
Driver distraction is a reality and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) reports that “Using a mobile/smartphone whilst driving is one of the highest causes (inside the vehicle) of driver distraction crashes especially within the 20 to 39 age group. A driver is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash when texting on a mobile phone while driving.”
“Reading a text for 4.6 seconds at 90km/h is like driving the length of a rugby field blindfolded”
When the United States Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a non profit organisation funded by auto insurance companies, conducted a survey around Distracted Driving in March 2018 to determine how drivers use their smartphones, they found that of the 800 participants
- 80% had admitted to talking on their phones
- 38% admitted to texting or reading emails
- a third reported they had sent emails or texts
With utilisation that high we can no longer ignore it. We’ve all experienced the problem, while driving along the road and we notice the oncoming car is creeping towards or even over the middle line, the heart starts to quicken and your foot is reaching for the brake, your mind is freaking out trying to determine an evasive move if required and then as the car passes the driver has either just looked up or they still have their head facing down, towards their laps which would indicate that their smartphone appendage is engaged.
Let’s all commit to making an effort to stop the killer smartphones that are loose in so many cars today.
Please, please, please, if you are addicted to the ping, then silence the phone before you turn on the car (iPhone have a Do Not Disturb While Driving setting) or if you know you can’t resist the ping then pack it in the boot. I promise you that the video from friend #200 can wait until you arrive safety before you give it a thumbs up.