The Effect of Handheld Devices on Drivers

The rapid increase in the usage of hand-held devices by drivers in various states in the United States has led to increasing public concern over road safety and the impact on the performance of the driver (Jacobson 1586). Over the last two decade, wireless subscriber connections in the United States have more than tripled. Text messaging has also become a common communication tool as apps such as WhatsApp and others become more popular. Most drivers today carry their cellphones to their vehicles when driving and receive incoming calls (Mccartt 86). To make it worse, there are some drivers who talk for at least half of their trips. The state of Texas has joined other states in prohibition for using hand held devices during driving. However, the ban has elicited several reactions with others opposing the ban and terming it as an infringement to the freedom of communication. Nowadays, it is common to see people using mobile phones or tablets while driving their vehicles. The situation has even become more scary among the youth who text while driving at high speeds. Such people using hones not only put their lives in danger but also those they may happen to get involved in an accident with (Jacobson 1588). Today, there are several articles in newspapers or over the internet related to road accidents that occurred because the driver was either receiving an incoming call or texting. The situation is saddening because it not only leads to the loss of lives but also leaves other people paralyzed and bed ridden. All drivers should be prohibited from using handheld devices while driving in the state of Texas. Texas is above the national average when it comes to motor vehicle fatalities, mainly because the use of hand-held devices is still allowed in most of the state. If the state would ban the use of hand-held devices roads and highways in Texas would be safer. One reason these devices should be banned is that it impairs the driver’s ability to physically drive defensively. Secondly, if the driver is using a cell phone while driving they are thinking about what they are texting and not what is surrounding their vehicle. It has also been found that drivers who are using devices are unable to maintain their speed and position on the road.

Impairment of Driver’s Attention

In most cases, drivers search for their phones once they ring, reach for them and after receiving it, they hold it on their ears. In some instances, the phone drops on the floor of the vehicle and the driver has to pick it while driving. During all these activities, the focus of the driver is divided and can easily lead to a fatal accident (Jacobson 1589). Additionally, the activities take away the energy of the driver and put it into handling of the phone rather than handling the vehicle. Other people may argue that using headphones of hands-free mode while driving may not impairment the judgment and concentration of the driver (Shaaban 1058). The fact is that having conversations with someone whether using a headphone or Bluetooth device requires the thoughtful response of the driver which means that energy is spent on the conversation, thus distracting the driver from focusing on the road and other vehicles (Mccartt101). The situation also does not help in cases of high speeds where the undivided attention of the driver is required because the slightest error or mistake may lead to severe consequences (Jacobson 1590).

Using cell phones also affects the driver’s hearing ability. A good driver should not only focus on the road ahead but also the traffic from behind. By using any hand held device that requires hearing attention, a driver may not be able to hear other road users hooting at him or her (Mccartt 98). In case of emergencies where a truck might have lost its breaks, it becomes difficult to give way and that can lead to a fatal accident. The serious nature of using hand held devices while driving has led to comparisons between the act and driving under the influence of alcohol. The outcomes of the research show that drivers who drive while using hand held devices are four times more likely to get into serious accidents (World Health Organization 26).

The use of hand held devices cause late reactions on the road. Mobile phones, particularly texting while driving can adversely impact on the reactions and reflexes of a driver. Texting not only engages one’s mind and ears but also their eyes. In the absence of the visual stimulus while behind the wheels, a serious accident is likely to occur (Shaaban 1060). Teenagers and the youth are the most notorious when it comes to driving while using their mobile phones or other hand held devices. Today, most drivers are aware that driving while on the phone or texting is dangerous and can cause fatal accidents (Mccartt 90). They however still continue with the habit and put their lives at risk. Banning the practice and imposing hefty penalties will play a vital role in reducing such cases. Drivers will have no choice but to comply. Failure to do so will mean that they risk losing their licenses and facing hefty penalties. Clearly, no one wants to lose their driving licenses or part with huge fines now and then.

Risks to the lives of pedestrians and Motorists

Driving while using a cell phone is one of the greatest risks to pedestrians and other motorists using the road. Since the rise of wireless mobile phones, there have been several cases in which motorists have plunged into pedestrians walking beside the road (Jacobson 1590). Most of these drivers were using mobile phones and there attention was completely divided. Cases of head-on collisions have also been on the rise due to drivers being on the phone for most parts of their journey. During a journey, having long conversations over the phone shifts the attention of a driver away from the phone and into the talk. Such drivers are more likely to engage in head on collisions with other on-coming motorists. The drivers also sometimes do not look at the side mirrors to ensure they are in the correct lanes and are not interfering with the journey of others. The outcome is often severe road accidents that not only lead to the destruction of property but also the lives. Most people end up in hospitals with injuries that they have to nurse throughout the remainder of their lives (Shaaban 1062). Such drivers not only bring pain and sorrow to different families that are affected but also economic problems. There are certain families that lose their bread winners in such negligent accidents. Other families have to spend all their saving to cater for the treatment costs of their loved ones who are engaged in the accident. Drivers using phones also do not maintain their speeds and increase the likelihoods of accidents.

Causing an accident while driving using a hand held device causes emotional and mental distress to victims. Most pedestrians and motorists who suffer from accidents as a result of a driver using a cell phone or any other hand held device suffers from posttraumatic stress. Most of them withdraw from the world and spend most of their time in fantasies as a way to escape from reality. In certain cases, others turn to alcohol and drugs to help them though the difficult moments. Negative emotions also become the norm not only among victims but also their close ones. They experience frustration, bitterness and anger all the time. The emotions escalate in some cases and patients are forced to check into rehab to control their conditions.

Currently, more men in Texas drive compared to women Research conducted on the use of hand held devices while driving has showed that men are more likely to use their cell phones while driving compared to women (Ige 12). Additionally, studies have found that the impairment caused by texting or making calls while driving is more significant in women. Additionally, it has been found that male drivers are more likely to reduce their speed while speaking over the phone while driving. Both sexes are faced with a challenge hence the need to ban the use of hand held devices while driving (World Health Organization 23). Despite fewer women using the phone while driving, they are likely to cause more accidents than men. Men, on the other hand, are the most when it comes to using hand held devices while driving. These are clearly risks that need to be eliminated if lives and property are not to be lot. Novice drivers are also more susceptible to using cell phones and other devices while driving. Most novice drivers are young people who are more susceptible to the effects of distraction as they drive (World Health Organization 23). Young drivers also undergo a cognitive development phase that makes them more prone to distraction and result in greater impact on their driving performance (Mccartt 104). A ban on the use of hand-held devices while driving will ensure that young drivers do not engage in acts such as texting or receiving calls that make them more prone to distraction on the road.

Increasing Number of accidents and failure to change attitudes

In light of the issues stated above, the obvious solution is a need to ban the use of cellphones and all other forms of wireless technology while driving. CBS News in 2009 assessed a report saying that one in twenty accidents in the U.S. involves a driver who was on the phone either texting or receiving a call. Since then, the number has been exponentially rising and a total ban of the devices is likely to be the best solution. Currently, most states in the U.S. have in place laws that regulate using mobile phones while driving which have proven to be unsuccessful of curbing the behavior. Most people think that a ban would be a decrease in the freedom of expression that is enshrined in the constitution. However, this is not the case as the aim of the ban would be to ensure that road users and motorists are safe. Different organizations have urged the public to change their attitude towards the use of cell phones when driving. However, the public is not bothered despite the alarming rate at which accidents are occurring every day. A standardized law into prohibition of using hand held devices especially mobile phones would result in less cases of distractions that would consequently lead to less road carnage and lives being saved (Mccartt 103). Currently, the healthcare industry is burdened by the high medical bills of road accident victims. Banning hand held devices would save a lot of tax-payers’ money and insurance for vehicles and people.

A ban on using phones while driving would create a culture of responsibility within the society. Drivers would be aware that they have a duty not only to ensure they are safe but also pedestrians and other motorists. Such a law would severely punish offenders who violate it and the outcome would be safer driving. Importantly, drivers in Texas would be assured that the likelihood of being involved in a road accident as a result of distracted driving would be minimal. It only takes a few seconds to stop and park a vehicle beside the road before receiving a call. In a case a driver is not able to resists the urge of checking their text messages or receiving calls while they are behind the wheels, they will only need to pull off the roadway. Such a culture is more safe and likely to save lives.

Despite the benefits of such a law, it also has certain limitations that may not favor motorists or pedestrians. In cases where a person is under physical, emotional or medical duress, dialing an emergency response becomes a challenge as the driver is forced to look for an appropriate site by the roadway to stop and then make the call. In some cases, this can take long especially in highways that prohibit vehicles from stopping by the roadside. Also, reporting high speed pursuits or any other event that may be occurring in the road will be significantly affected. Currently, drivers can immediately call 911 in case they have witnessed an event that needs police attention. Banning cell phones would make it difficult for drivers to report various incidences that they may encounter. Additionally, it may not be safe to park just anywhere to make a call or reply a text. In some cases, it can lead to accidents or a driver can even be attacked.


The answer to persist road crashes and guaranteeing safety to pedestrians is banning the use of hand held devices while driving. In Texas, cases of accidents have been on the rise with some of them being caused by distraction. Despite being aware of the dangers of driving while texting or receiving calls, drivers have not changed their habits. Driving is a serious matter that requires undivided attention. Drivers need to be aware that the safety of their passengers, pedestrians and other motorists in on their hands. By banning the use of hand held devices, road users will be safer. Drivers will have no choice but to act in a more responsible manner of face hefty fines and cancellation of their driving licenses. Families will no longer bear the pain of losing their loved ones through drivers who could not wait to reply their messages. Hospitals will have less accident victims and emotional distress was a result of fatal accidents will be eliminated. Texas should not only enact policies that ban the use of hand held devices but also ensure that the law is effectively reinforced. Human life is too precious to be suddenly ended by drivers who do not care about their safety and that of others.

Works Cited

Jacobson, Sheldon H. et al. "Assessing The Long Term Benefit Of Banning The Use Of Hand-Held Wireless Devices While Driving". Transportation Research Part A: Policy And Practice, vol 46, no. 10, 2012, pp. 1586-1593. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.tra.2012.08.007.

Mccartt, Anne T. et al. "Cell Phones And Driving: Review Of Research". Traffic Injury Prevention, vol 7, no. 2, 2006, pp. 89-106. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/15389580600651103. Accessed 15 Nov 2018.

Shaaban, Khaled. "Investigating Cell Phone Use While Driving In Qatar". Procedia - Social And Behavioral Sciences, vol 104, 2013, pp. 1058-1067. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.11.201.

World Health Organization. MOBILE PHONE USE: A GROWING PROBLEM OF DRIVER DISTRACTION. 2011, Accessed 15 Nov 2018.

Ige, Janet et al. Mobile Phone Use While Driving: Underestimation Of A Global Threat. 2016, Accessed 15 Nov 2018.

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