An Indiana driver doesn’t have to look at too many cars around them to see that nearly every car on the road has a digital screen of some sort. New cars offer screens that update the car’s driving status. This includes the engine function, the speed of the car, and the miles per gallon. Electric cars offer graphics that illustrate the charging of their batteries.
Children strapped into car seats watch cartoons through built in DVD players with individual screens placed on the seats and in the roof of the minivan. Teenagers text and check their social media. Sometimes it happens when they drive or at a red light. Adults view their email, social media, and texts from behind the wheel. It is obvious that drivers are unable to stop themselves from using a cell phone while driving. Recent studies prove this non-stop use of electrical devices could be due drivers’ addiction because of the good feelings that they have when using the electronic devices.
There is a growing amount of evidence of the dangers of using a cell phone or texting while driving. Yet, many motorists continue to engage in this behavior. Besides talking and texting while driving, there are many other digital activities that motorists indulge in while behind the wheel. In a recent AT&T survey, many motorists report that they frequently used social media websites, text, and check on e-mail while driving. They also report using video chatting services and their cell phone’s camera to take selfies while driving.
There is no doubt that the number of distracting activities has only increased over time. Drivers are no longer content with texting while at the wheel. They are now able to engage in a wide variety of activities that keep them constantly connected to the world around them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This frequent connectivity emits pleasurable sensations in motorists.
Drivers who use their phone at the wheel experience a certain “high”. These pleasures are similar to the feelings one has when playing a slot machine. The release of dopamine, a chemical associated with good feelings, leads to the desire to repeat the activity that triggered the release. This desire repeats itself, again and again.
There are several phone apps available which block cell phone use when the car or truck is moving. As you can imagine, these are not popular. Drivers want that good feeling and often disable these apps. In addition, there are no valid safety technologies that are designed to stop drivers from using a cell phone while driving. Yet, one company is working on a solution that would use a camera to track the drivers’ eye movements. When the driver shows signs of losing focus, an alarm will sound.
This is a good first step in keeping drivers and safe when behind the wheel. But a long-lasting fix to the problem may long in coming. The need for instant gratification should never outweigh safety. However, the current trend is for more cell phone use. This means drivers and those who ride along are at risk for serious injury or even death.
The lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP represent persons injured in car accidents in the Indianapolis region and all across Indiana.