Few people would deny that we live in a world which revolves around technology. On a college campus especially, it seems everyone is glued to their cell phones, laptops and iPads. Unfortunately, this trend is a dangerous one when it extends to the roadways, as distracted driving claims the lives of over 3,000 Americans each year. Clearly, something must be done, but is it realistic to think that we can eradicate distracted driving altogether?
Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, has created a means to curb bad driving habits while still allowing motorists to indulge in technology: new “texting zones” on major roadways. Much like rest stops, these designated tech zones will offer a secure place for drivers to park and send a text, tweet or e-mail.
Signs posted a few miles before the stops will notify highway-goers that “relief from the digital wilderness is just a few minutes down the road.” With this approach, Cuomo hopes to combat distracted driving, reduce the amount of yearly deaths associated with the issue and save motorists from the state’s recently-heightened fines.
Will the implementation of texting zones on major roadways become a growing trend across the nation? For states such as Massachusetts, where recent surveys suggest high rates of texting and tweeting behind the wheel, it may be a good idea.
According to a survey by one car insurance carrier serving Massachusetts and Connecticut, nearly 40% of people regularly text while driving. One quarter of the participants in the survey even reported that new laws or penalties for texting behind the wheel will not deter them from engaging in bad distracted driving habits.
While Massachusetts’s 2010 Safe Driving Law bans texting and driving completely and limits general cell phone use depending on the age of the driver, it is clear that laws can only go so far. Even with hefty fines in place to prevent people from using cell phones behind the wheel, the problem has not been solved.
The upcoming calendar year may be accompanied by sting operations along the state’s major highways, as the Massachusetts State Police Department recently announced that they have received a $275,000 government grant to cover the costs of increased enforcement of the Safe Driving Law. The project, entitled “Text With One Hand, Ticket In The Other” is just another way for authorities to catch people texting behind the wheel and hit them with heavy fines.
The question as to whether this is really the best way to solve the issue of distracted driving remains.
“Personally, I think that the idea of busting people while in the act of texting and driving is not actually a solution to the problem,” said Kayla McLaughlin, LSOE '17. “These new ‘texting zones’ are at least worth a shot, because they could help prevent the issue before it even happens in the first place.”
Whether or not other states follow in New York’s footsteps, it will be interesting to see the effectiveness of texting zones compared to the impending police sting operations in Massachusetts. If they prove successful, texting zones may become a nationwide trend in the future.
Featured image via GerryGaffney/Flickr.