How distractions can affect our reactions

Casey Nguyen, Staff writer

For most adults, driving is like second nature. Just like breathing, it has become a natural instinct that they don’t think about when completing. For teenagers, like ourselves, driving is a whole new experience that we have yet to be fully skilled in. New skills require time, focus, and effort to master. But how can we be focused when we are surrounded by distractions?

The use of technology is rising day by day. We all rely on our gadgets, using various technologies to accomplish even the simplest tasks in our daily lives. It has become an addiction that we can’t shake off by spending endless amounts of time on our smartphones.

“We have to have it in our possession, and when we don’t, it’s like something is missing,” Driver’s Ed teacher Mr. Hughes said. We feel an uncontrollable urge to check or respond to our notifications, even when we are behind the wheel.

Distraction is a major danger to drivers today. From having too many passengers in the vehicle to trying to change the channel on the radio. It is easy to lose your attention and get into a fatal crash. Cell phone use, for example, is among one of the main causes of car crashes today, causing about 1.6 million crashes every year.

“I always have the urge to jam to Kanye while driving, so I’ll be constantly changing the song until I find something I like,” senior Kevin Huynh said.

Despite this, there are many other deadly driving distractions. Using one’s car as a place to eat and drink like a restaurant is risky. According to the New York Times, 80 percent of all car crashes are caused by drivers being more focused on eating rather than the road ahead.

Chatting and gossiping to friends and occupants inside the car could also distract the driver. However, it does not always have to be an outside influence that distracts you. Detaching from reality and thinking about the hectic day you had could be harmful as well.

“If you are not paying attention to what’s going on around you, only glancing up and not scanning, you’re gonna miss something,” Hughes said, “Another driver could be making a mistake and hit you.”

Teen drivers are at a higher risk than any other age group to be involved in a crash. For many young drivers, a smartphone is almost constantly absorbing their attention. Notice how in the hallways, students move from class to class without looking away from their screens. Apart from the screens, students wear headphones listening to music. A handful of students walk with their sight and hearing occupied. They are completely oblivious to those around them, causing them to tumble and bump into each other.

So of course, nothing good would come out of it while they are using their cell phones while driving. According to New England Cable News, 11 teenagers die every day as a result of texting while driving.

“Texting right now is more prevalent than even driving under the influence. Each year it goes up four percent as the cause of crashes,” Hughes said.

It also doesn’t help that teenagers are more prone to distraction. Even more so, as they attempt to figure out the ups and downs of being behind the wheel. When compared to an experienced driver, they are four times more likely to get into an automobile crash when using a cellular device.

“They need to pay more attention and be more alert they’re not as experienced at spotting things and it takes them a little longer to do so,” Hughes said.

However, the dangers of using smartphones while driving are not news. We hear it over and over again: don’t text and drive. The statement has practically been implemented into our brains by now.

Even when we do know of the dangers, why are we so stuck to our phones?

“It’s an urge that when you have that phone with you and when it’s available, it’s hard to not check it,” Hughes said, “Everybody thinks that it is okay because nothing bad is going to happen and unfortunately this is not the case.”

It is not just about what is in front of you that you don’t see, it is what is going around you. It takes less than a minute to look down, text something, and look back up. By keeping the phone out of sight and out of reach, you ensure safety for yourself and others around you.

The next time you’re behind the wheel and an incoming text pings, think of the consequences until the urge of picking up that phone stops.