TheNewsOutlet.org is a collaborative effort among the Yougnstown State University journalism program, The University of Akron, Cuyahoga Community College and professional media outlets including, WYSU-FM Radio and The Vindicator (Youngstown), The Beacon Journal and Rubber City Radio (Akron).
Aubrey Barto is a 2014 graduate of The University of Akron. The accompanying UA survey can be found on TheNewsOutlet.org website.
Driving and texting is a bad mix. TV ads say it. Studies say it. Even the law says it. Still, people – especially young people – do it.
A Virginia Tech study says texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be in an accident. In a Pew Research Center study, 40 percent of U.S. teens have been in a car when a driver was using a cellphone and 50 percent of them admit to texting while driving.
In an effort to understand why people use cellphones while driving, The News Outlet surveyed 188 people on The University of Akron campus.
Most didn’t see talking on a cellphone as being as dangerous as texting on one, with 91 percent saying they have talked on a phone while driving and 65.4 percent saying they’ve texted while driving.
Talking on cellphones is so common that 97.9 percent said they’ve seen other drivers doing it, and 86 percent weren’t concerned about it.
Connor Jones said he uses his cellphone “anytime I get a call when driving.”
“I believe you can talk on a cellphone and still drive OK, but I hate to see people texting while driving because it is too dangerous,” said Sarah Wright.
Kevin Kane, said he uses his cell occasionally, “Maybe once every one to two weeks, usually only when people call me. I hate it. It distracts me physically and mentally.”
When asked if they were confident in their ability to multitask while driving, 47.3 percent said they were, while 50 percent saying they wouldn’t be confident.
Many said they use a hands-free device while talking on a cellphone.
One person, who didn’t give a name said he talked on a cellphone “daily, but I try to use a Bluetooth device.”
While this sounds safer, a 2004 AAA study found the use of hands-free devices while driving is actually more distracting than using a hand-held one.
People were more wary when it comes to texting while driving.
“I’ve done it before, but nowadays I like to keep my phone in my pocket and not touch it until I’m finished driving,” said Shane Gamble.
Amanda Kenepp said she texted twice while driving. “Until I realized how much more awful at driving I was when I texted.”
“I only text when I’m at a stoplight,” said Sarah Wright.
Five of the 188 said they’ve been in an accident resulting from cell-phone use.
“I was rear-ended at a stoplight by a person who was texting while driving,” said James Mathatas.
“Just two weeks ago, some idiot smashed into the back of me at 40-plus miles per hour while she was texting and sent me to the hospital for three days,” said Kyle Drachenberg.
Even knowing it is dangerous, some still text while driving.
“I feel completely confident talking on the phone and driving, but not texting. Yet I still do it,” said Amanda Bowling. “I think it’s extremely dangerous and we need to somehow come up with non-optional modes on phones to restrict texting while driving. That is the only way to truly stop it, in my opinion.”
The government, however, doesn’t allow for such restrictions.
Michael Rosen of Akron owns IC Cellular. He said the Federal Communications Commission bans interference with telecommunications between parties, meaning you cannot disable the ability for the phone to talk.
Hannah Reeser isn’t waiting for technology to step in.
“My main thing is why risk your life for something that can wait? Especially when one is driving at high speeds, not only is he/she risking his/her life, but are also risking those of everybody else driving around them.”