Distracted driving, distracted generation

Sunday, May 29, 2011

  • Distracted driving stems from distraction in the greater society

    Distracted driving stems from distraction in the greater society

Written by Stephanie Rennie

            As the legacy of Queen Victoria graced us with an excuse to take three days off work and enjoy a long weekend of fun, the OPP were busy cracking down on distracted drivers. It has become not only common, but often viewed as essential, for drivers to text, make phone calls, or even do their hair while driving.

            Between May 16th and May 22nd, police officers across the nation participated in the Canada Road Safety initiative to promote awareness regarding the number of accidents caused by distracted driving.

            In Guelph, forty eight people were charged with driving while texting, talking on the phone, or using a laptop or portable DVD player. This number has significantly increased from last year’s blitz that charged thirty eight Guelph residents. A large number of deaths and serious injuries are the result of distracted drivers in recent years in Guelph.

            During the distracted driving week, police discovered drivers doing very peculiar and very distracting tasks while driving. One driver was found reading a book while driving on HWY 400. Another was seen eating a bowl of cereal while commuting to work. I love a good bowl of cereal as much as the next person, but I cannot imagine trying to drive while munching on my cheerios.

              I can’t help but relate distractedness in driving to people’s overall inability to focus on one thing at a time. On any given day at the McLaughlin Library, you can find students watching a television show on one window and doing their assignments on another window, and probably texting or talking at the same time. It is obvious that each task is being neglected to some degree when they are all intermingled.

            Even as I write this article I have more than one window open, music playing and I am having brief conversations with people. Since we are so accustomed to multitasking in our everyday lives, it is not surprising that we are unable to focus on driving alone when we are in the car.

            It is also a habitual issue. When you hear that all too familiar sound of a text message or a phone call, it is a habit to reach over and check your phone.

The obsession of this generation to be connected through technology has quite apparent psychological effects. It seems as though people multitask not only for the primary reason of getting more accomplished in a short period of time, but also due to their inability to focus on only one thing.

            But how is this constant need for multitasking and susceptibility to distraction harming our mental well-being?

            It is evident that multitasking causes greater stress levels and decreases our overall attention to the process of each task at hand. When related to imperative tasks of driving and work, one is able to understand the severe implications of such distractions.

            It is not surprising that many people are under the impression that they need to answer their phones while driving, but it also means that the quality of driving itself diminishes, as does the quality of the phone conversation. Scholars have investigated the effects of multitasking on personal relationships to find that relationships are generally shallower and less quality time is spent among each other’s company due to our distracted ways.

            While we are getting better at texting while talking, walking, or even eating family dinner, we must ask ourselves how this is affecting our daily life.

Stephanie Rennie is Editor-in-Chief of thecannon. Fire Away publishes every other Thursday in The Cannon and in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.





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