Mobile Technology. Making lives easier, one day at a time. What would we do without microwaves, which allow us to heat up meals in just minutes? How could we live without mechanical transportation, which permits us to arrive at our destinations exponentially quicker than walking would? Recently, we have also pondered how our ancestors ever survived without cell phones, which enable us to communicate with individuals near or far with the simple push of a button. Beneath the lifesaving façade of technology, however, lies a darker reality.
To best demonstrate an exemplification of the more macabre side of technology, I will share my personal experience about how the use of a smartphone nearly cost me my life.
The first cell phone was invented in 1973 by Marty Cooper (Deffree). Cooper likely never anticipated that this very invention would also be responsible for causing 1.6 million vehicular crashes annually in the United States alone, injuring 390,000 individuals and killing nearly 500 individuals in the process (“Texting and Driving Accident Statistics”).
It was not too long ago where I, too, engaged in the habit of using my cell phone while driving. I frequently multitasked when possible due to my busy lifestyle. This admittedly included routinely checking my e-mail, texting, talking, and shopping online while operating my vehicle. When passengers were present, I heard frequent lectures about the dangers of the habit. It was, furthermore, not too uncommon to swerve into the other lane while driving, albeit for a brief instant. However, because of my frequent engagement in cell phone usage, while driving, I remained lax and continued this habit, choosing not to heed the warnings of others.
This habit would, however, permanently come to an end for me in April of 2013. Because I was enrolled in a particularly demanding program at the time, I often had limited time to complete myriad tasks. As expected, schedule conflicts were not too infrequent. Such a conflict occurred one day while on my way to a national conference, a thirteen-hour drive from my home location. My boss simultaneously requested that I be on call for a two-hour conference call, stating that this call was not optional. Naturally, I had no choice but to use my cell phone while driving in this circumstance. My attentiveness was limited due to the fact that I was driving on an interstate coupled with the presence of traffic congestion. The interstate in this location was also especially windy, hilly and full of wildlife. Consequently, I felt myself contributing minimally to the conference call but remained on the line.
After a while, my attention to the road was diverted when a question directed at me emerged unexpectedly. The question inquired about specific details of a manuscript I had under review at the time. Experiencing a memory lapse, I quickly attempted to download a copy of my manuscript on my smartphone in order to adequately answer the question. While searching for the document, I neglected to notice that my car had swerved out of its designated lane. I had driven to a more isolated area by this point, and I was consequently less concerned about oncoming traffic. However, by the time I was able to successfully download my document, I had looked up just in time to notice that my car was halfway into the shoulder of the road. I did not, however, have enough time to react to the unforeseen large buck staring at my oncoming car. That is when I heard the screeching of my tires, concurrent with the violent jolt I felt from the impact of my car hitting the buck. Screaming, I looked back to see the buck — alive and well just seconds before — now nothing more than a pile of blood and guts splattered all over the road. I then exited my totaled car prior to losing control of all my senses. I remained on the conference call, but was in shock and, therefore, unable to articulate what had just occurred. All of those on the call expressed concern, fright, and confusion. I could only answer by uncontrollable bawling. I had gotten into a first vehicular accident, unprepared and unequipped to deal with such an occurrence.
It took the utmost effort to recollect myself enough to articulate the occurrence of a car accident while on call and shamefully explained the circumstances to the group. After unanimously expressing great concern on my behalf, I terminated the conference call prematurely. I was now in an isolated area on an unfamiliar road. Looking once again at the deceased animal, I came to the stark, terrifying realization that that could have easily been me. Subsequent to coming to this realization, I immediately vowed to never use my phone behind the wheel again. Though mobile phones are generally a luxury (though not generally a necessity), this illustrates one example in which mobile phones can also be our foe.
1. Deffree, Suzanne. “1st mobile phone call is made, April 3, 1973.” EDN Moments. EDN Network, 04.03.2019. Web. 12.12.2019.
2. “Texting and Driving Accident Statistics.” A Personal Injury Law Firm Representing Injured People. Edgar Synder & Associates, 2019. Web. 12.12.2019.
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