Are We So Addicted to Phones We Need Text Stops?
My uncle passed away Wednesday morning and I attended services and paid my respects on Friday. That drive took me out of northwest Jersey through Pennsylvania then into New York state. On the way, I saw something I'd never seen before.
We've all heard of rest stops. Did you ever hear of a text stop? It's the same place. But it's New York state's way of telling drivers enough already. That if you're going to play with your phone, here's a rest stop where you can park and do it safely.
The first sign I saw told drivers there was a 'text stop' 6 miles ahead along with the message 'It can wait.' For a moment I actually wondered if they had set up nothing more than an empty parking lot strictly for cell phone use, like the kind of cell phone lots you'll see at airports. I was glad to see they didn't spend money creating these but instead used the already existing rest stops to simply remind people this is dangerous behavior.
Do we need them in New Jersey? I don't see them helping. That's because I feel the real reason people are texting while driving is simple boredom. Long Jersey commutes, traffic jams, etc.. We put a lot of time in on the road. Driving becomes second nature, at least we feel it does. It's the sudden unexpected emergency that is not second nature and it's that split second which forever changes or outright ends lives. We never think it's going to happen to us.
In fact, I wish I could prove my boredom theory by somehow seeing transcripts of everyone's text messages that were read and sent while driving. I would bet well over 90% of them have nothing to do with imparting important information like Liam missed his bus can you pick him up at school. I would guess most of them are dumb inside jokes, gossip, gifs, etc.. Boredom.
The NTSB strongly recommended years ago that there be an outright ban on all cell phone use while driving, even hands-free. Would a ban in and of itself work? No. We have a handheld law in New Jersey that people violate constantly. The real answer lies in the telecommunications industry being forced to design phones that will not operate when in motion. They'll never do it voluntarily and the public, despite any death toll, will push back fiercely. Why?
It seems Americans would rather be dead than bored.