We asked students across the nation whether they thought cell phone manufacturers should be held responsible for distracted driving in our first-ever scholarship essay contest. Fifty students from a variety of universities responded. We had to choose one winner, but we can honestly say that all 50 students presented very thoughtful opinions. So we wanted to share them with you!
What struck our judges most was the awareness of the dangers of texting and driving and a commitment by students to take responsibility for their actions while driving – a hopeful indication for us, because the number-one cause of preventable death for teens in America is car accidents. Students like these can help impact their generation’s view on safe driving… Please share this important message with everyone you know!
Be sure to check out Part 2 of this blog post featuring more student responses about distracted driving.
Do you think that cell phone manufacturers should be held responsible for distracted driving?
Alexandra Alford, University of New Mexico:
“… [T]hey should be able to prevent those accidents from happening by not allowing people to access certain apps…. by enabling cell phones to disconnect certain apps while driving. [This] will ultimately lead to less accidents and less people being tempted to look at their phones.”
Malik Anderson, Charleston School of Law:
“Every year, thousands of people die from cell phone use while driving. The majority of society, including myself, often place the blame on the idiot who was texting… but is the individual really to blame? Yes, putting other people’s lives at risk for such trivial reasons is wrong, but what about the fact that cell phone manufacturers use the idea of multitasking to market everything from the hottest new iPhone to the 'explosive' Samsung Galaxy?”
Merlyn Avila, Washington State University:
“People believe that multitasking is possible while driving, so we use numerous distractions while driving to try to get things done faster. This, of course, has led to dangerous districted driving. People don’t want to take responsibility for their actions and thus blame the creators of whatever technology they were using at the time.”
Derrick Allen, North Carolina A&T State University:
“From the minute that you purchase a phone, the device and how you use it is your responsibility. The manufacturers cannot control when and how you use the device. When it comes to …driving, we cannot use manufacturers as the scapegoat for the actions that we choose. Behind every choice, there is a consequence.”
Kaitlin Applegate, Santa Fe College:
“…[I]f I allow my cell phone to distract me when I drive, I am operating under my own discretion, not the advisement of the product manufacturer. Therefore, any resulting harm holds me solely liable for the results of my negligence. Instead of expending energy on trying to blame shift distracted driving onto cell phone manufacturers, we must acknowledge our responsibility to make wise driving decisions as human beings…
The next time your cell phone rings, dings, buzzes, or beeps while driving, do yourself and your community a favor, wait to check it until you get out of the car.”
McKenzie Bingham, Springfield College:
“There are some key technologies that will prevent cell phone usage while driving. This technology should be further developed and standardized throughout the country; eventually making it law that requires all cell phone users have this system in use when driving.”
Darly Bocanegra, Florida A&M College of Law:
“Cell phone makers cannot disregard that their products are responsible for lots of car accidents. They must provide warnings of the risk of texting and driving, and implement systems that will automatically block the phone activated by a sensor of motion. It is true that drivers will find other ways to be distracted, but implementing automatic blocking as part of safety devices in cell phone technology will specifically prevent cell phone distraction while driving. It is time for courts to find cell phones makers responsible in order to force them to change their policies and implement blocking systems while the car is in motion. Human life is priceless, and cell phone makers have the power to protect lots of lives.
Human life is priceless, and cell phone makers have the power to protect lots of lives.
Kenneth Bonser, University of the Pacific:
“…[W]hile we are ultimately to blame for distracted driving and cannot hold manufacturers responsible, they should still work toward providing a safer product and adapting it for how we, the consumers, use it.”
Brianna Carter, Peninsula College:
“Cell phones are posing a greater threat on the road. Thousands of drivers are using their cell phones, and leaving texting and driving to be the leading cause of most accidents. However, the way we see distracted driving is beginning to change. There are debates on whether cell phone companies should be the ones to blame instead of the individual. In Texas, Ashley Kubiak was distracted by her iPhone and crashed into another vehicle in 2016. She ended up killing a passenger and paralyzing a child. The family of the distracted driver tried suing Apple for the addicting habits that are caused by phones themselves. Now, more people are questioning whether corporations, such as Apple and AT&T, should take responsibility in making driving-proof phones to prevent further accidents. Although cell phones are addicting, I believe that texting and driving is still up to the individual.”
Everyone has a choice whether or not to text and drive. By putting your cell phone away, the roads are one step closer to being a safe zone, free of texting and driving.
Brianna Kathleen Chandra, University of California San Diego:
“Although cell phone manufacturers sell millions of cell phones each year, we, the users, are the ones who decide how, when, and where we use them.”
Jean Claxton, University of Phoenix:
“Sadly, the manufacturers have no motivating force to install such technology. There would be a cost and plausible resistance to passing that cost on to purchasers. On the off chance that we are all to be shielded from the risks texting and driving, the manufacturers must be compelled to roll out the required improvements.”
Serena Coleman, Berkeley College:
“You see it on every social media platform: videos of people filming themselves, or their friends, while driving a vehicle. With the endless vat of content our smartphones offer, there is always something to look up, even while driving. Sometimes, we’re just trying to figure out where to turn next, or maybe figure out what song is playing on the radio. These things may seem important in the moment, but as soon as tragedy strikes, all is put in to perspective. The point is, getting home safely should be your priority, and your phone should be your last.”
Mariam Conteh, Hampton University:
“So why is that one person that has a phone can get into a fatal car accident and another person with the same phone can have no record of any accidents? This is because of a simple life decision: choosing whether to drive and use your phone.”
KymBre’Una Daniels, University of The Virgin Islands:
“We have been warned a countless number of times through advertisements on billboards, radio stations, social media post, and television commercials. However, it is still an ongoing issue that we ourselves are not willing to change or accept. We accuse the creators of these great inventions rather than accept the blame as we should. All in all, manufacturers are only creating what their customers want and desire. For this reason, manufacturers should not be held responsible for distracted driving. The driver should be held responsible for ensuring they follow driving laws and maintain safe driving conditions.”
Briahna DeAnda, Concordia University Texas:
“Ultimately, while the cell phone manufacturers could put more effort into raising awareness about distracted driving, it is the consumer’s decision when to use their cell phone, and nothing can be done to prevent a human from making a bad decision.”
Kaleigh DeNardo, Illinois College:
“According to the National Safety Council, the use of a cell phone while driving can make you four times more likely to get into an automobile accident. This statistic not only shows how unsafe using a cell phone while driving can be, but also shows that cell phone users have an obligation to themselves and to others to resist the urge of sending one ‘quick’ text message or checking the newest social media update while driving.”
Prajwol Dhungana, University of Texas at Arlington:
“I believe that cellphone manufactures should not be held responsible for distracted driving. The law in the United States clearly displays the consequences that drivers can face if they choose to drive distracted, as the law favors those who believe that manufacturers are not to be blamed. There are many solutions that are being developed, but the best solution is to simply follow the law.”
Joslyn Diaz, University of Wisconsin at La Crosse:
“Distracted driving starts and comes from the person who is driving. If you decide to respond to a text or look at the updates that pop up on your phone screen, that would be the choice you make in that split second. When it comes down to it, no matter how advanced your phone is, you are the person that makes the ultimate decision of whether you want to put yourself and others in a life-or-death situation.”
Breanna Flintroy, Faulkner University, Thomas Goode Jones School of Law:
"Cell phone manufacturers only manufacture the phones; they do not force those who purchase the phone to do anything while driving. When a person chooses to operate a motor vehicle, they are solely responsible for their actions behind the wheel."
Tera Giles, Washington State University:
“A driver can choose to turn the phone off, turn the volume down, or even put the phone out of reach. Learning to drive includes learning that you should have your eyes on the road and both hands on the steering wheel to safely operate a vehicle.”
Andrew Hasselbring, Pepperdine University:
"We can no more expect cell phone manufacturers to be responsible for distracted drivers than we can ask computer manufacturers to be responsible for the actions of hackers or car manufacturers to be blamed for speeding drivers. Rather than try to shift accountability from the user to the developer, it makes more sense to educate the public and insist that technology be used responsibly. Like most good things in life, cell phones can transform our lives in either a positive or a negative way, depending on the ways that we choose to use them. Surely those choices will be wiser and considered far more carefully when we know that we will be held accountable for them."
Ciara Hellewell, Brigham Young University:
"If drivers choose to ignore safety and not let someone else in the car answer their phone or look something up, or are by themselves and don’t take the extra time to pull over and be safe, then it’s their fault if something happens. They know that distracted driving is dangerous and that it’s against the law to use your phone while driving, and if they choose to break the law, then they’re the only ones who should be responsible."
Jennifer Hennig, University of Rochester:
"[C]ell phone manufacturers have decided to leave the decision in the hands of the user, but they do provide options, such as apps, to prevent cell phone usage while behind the wheel. [I]s that enough? I believe so. Cell phone manufacturers should not be held responsible for distracted driving because a manufacturer can only do so much. Samsung tries to provide the best cell phone for its consumers, like making the phone waterproof, easier to hold, faster processing system, high-end camera, and everything in between. And the reality is, the consumer can do whatever it likes with the phone once they buy it. Yes, if the phone were to catch on fire spontaneously or have a processing issue, Samsung would take responsibility, but keeping the owner of the phone from using the phone in certain circumstances doesn’t seem like a responsibility that cell phone manufacturers ought to have. It’s ultimately in the hands of the owner, and if the owner gets an accident while on the phone, the owner should be held responsible, not the cell phone manufacturer."
Cassidy Hill, Northern Kentucky University, Salmon P. Chase College of Law:
"[L]et’s assume this idea of holding phone manufacturers liable for distracted driving does come to pass. This shift in law would not only affect drivers and compensation, but also the future of phones and technology as well. If phone manufacturers became liable for distracted driving, phones would start to be sold and manufactured differently so that the phone manufacturer can reduce their own loss. Been in an accident before due to your texting? Perhaps your phone rates will go up. Your passenger needs to make a call while the car is in motion? Perhaps GPS motion detection technology will shut off the phone while you’re in the car. These scenarios seem pretty inconvenient and unlikely. However, it isn’t too far-fetched to think that phone manufacturers won’t go above and beyond to protect their business’s success and profits. Why shouldn’t they?"
Meyantae Johnson, Indiana Tech:
"I have a note in my car that states, 'Life is short, don’t make it shorter, FOCUS.' I think cell phone providers not only should be held accountable for distracted driving, but they should also have incentives and programs implemented that help their customers to avoid distracted driving. One way they could aid in decreasing distractions is doing more work with car companies and adding features like cell phones that will allow customers easier access to, say, respond to a text -- some of these efforts can be found in today’s vehicles, but not all. Because the cell phone industry will only continue to grow, they should target their corporate social responsibility toward their customers and improving products so that fewer lives are lost. If some companies refuse to add techniques to decrease distracted driving, then they should be penalized and/or given a fine. I am sure after so many fines, the company would much rather spend costs to investigate possible techniques rather than lose rapport with society."
Stephanie Johnstone, Washington State University:
"Though cellphone companies have made it easy and tempting to use your phone while driving, I do not think cell phone manufacturers should be held responsible for distracted driving. I can see placing some blame back when they were car phones, but they no longer have the same restrictions or purposes. Car phones were at least designed to be used in the car only, so you might say they encourage use while driving. Cell phones, on the other hand, are designed to go anywhere and replace house phones, pay phones, and car phones. Now we are told not to use them in the car, and we don’t need to."
Avery Joy, University of Alabama at Birmingham:
"Humans are prone to make mistakes. The stakes are raised as we travel around in vehicles that easily cause injury. Compounding this problem is our habit of allowing ourselves to be distracted while behind the wheel. Cell phones are a major factor in this distraction, and it is the individual's responsibility to minimize distractions. Manufacturers of cell phones should be absolved of responsibility for distracted driving. Rather than placing the blame on a scapegoat, each person should take full responsibility for their choices."
Ivy Khevali, Del Mar College:
"Cell phone manufacturers need to realize that people come before profits. If it means a few beta test failures of passengers in cars, buses or even trains being accidentally locked out from texting because the phone software has not yet discerned the difference between a driver and a passenger, then so be it. In the meantime, better measures can be implemented within states that completely outlaw the use of phones – except for hands-free if truly necessary. Unfortunately, because smartphone manufacturers have refused to spearhead this crucial issue by withholding the existent patents that, if enforced and implemented across all devices, would save countless lives, other alternatives have been created. Some applications (after enabling) completely block off all incoming calls and texts, while others read the text, email and even calls aloud, thus aiming to eliminate the urge for a driver to avert their eyes from the road."
Javier Lopez, University of Maryland at College Park:
"Phone manufacturers spend a great deal of resources marketing their products and generating revenue. Any public danger as a result of product usage should hold the companies liable. While some may see distracted driving as more of a personal issue, there are many aspects attributed with the features and lack of warning that manufacturers put into their phones. Consumers who pursue litigation in the form of class-action lawsuits have the potential to set precedents as technology continues to progress in the years to come. The case rulings are likely to provoke legislation that would force manufacturers to take responsibility and reduce the level of available content while driving and increase the amount of warning-related information prior to and while driving. If the former comes to pass, many lives could be spared from a painful experience due to distracted driving."
Gabrielle Marshall, University of Oklahoma College of Law:
"Manufacturers should not be held responsible for the public’s bad decisions. The only person who is to blame is the distracted driver, and it is time they take responsibility for those actions. It could easily be argued that the GPS function is to be used while driving and thus is a feature in itself created to distract, but even still, the feature talks out loud to prevent drivers from having to look down and away from the road. Also, there are dashboard gadgets where a driver could place their phone, so as to not have to take their eyes away from the road. But whatever a driver chooses to do while driving, including drinking or texting, it is of their own free will, and no manufacturer should be held responsible for a person’s choice."
Barilyn Martino, University of South Carolina at Beaufort:
"[A]s you get more experienced and comfortable with driving, you might find yourself more willing to spread your attention across numerous distractions. Still, no matter how experienced you are, the more you become distracted while driving, the more you're at risk of getting into a car accident exponentially grows. As a general rule, if you cannot devote your full attention to driving because of some other activity, it’s a distraction. Take care of it before or after your trip, not while behind the wheel. Nothing is worth risking your life and the lives of other drivers simply to save a few seconds. So, the answer to your question is no. I don't think the cell phone manufacturer should be held responsible. It's more about us (the driver) responsibility to take control."
Joshua Nazaryan, Sacramento State University:
"Cell phone companies are not responsible for the inappropriate use, by drivers, of their manufactured devices. It really boils down to personal responsibility. If a driver makes the conscious choice and effort to use a cell phone while driving, they are acting in defiance of the law. Hence, the individual driver should be held responsible for the choice that they made to engage with a distraction, ultimately endangering other drivers on the road. In the same way, we don't hold gun manufacturers responsible for civilian misuse of firearms in cases of injury or death. It is the person misusing the gun, breaking the law and putting others at risk who is responsible. Similarly, it is the person using the phone ... who is responsible, and should be held responsible for distracting driving. Blaming cell phone manufacturers for distracted driving would take away incentive for people to act responsibly while driving and would be counterintuitive in fighting distractions on the road."
Corie Laine O'Neal, University of Florida:
"If we were to hold cell phone manufacturers responsible for distracted driving, then we would also need to hold application designers accountable, too. Pokémon Go was an application that was created to get people moving while playing a video game. However, soon after it was created, many people were using it while they were driving. This game caused many accidents because it distracted drivers from the road. Cell phone manufacturers and application designers ... cannot control how consumers use their products. Almost anything can lead to distracted driving. For example, grabbing food out of a drive-through and eating in the car can be distracting and lead to an accident. A woman applying mascara in her mirror while driving can also be disastrous. However, if the individuals were to get into an accident, the fast-food company and the makeup company would not be at fault. Similarly, cell phone manufacturers cannot be held responsible for the poor choices that their customers make."
Samuel Oshoba, University of Texas at Austin:
"The proposition that phone manufacturers should be held responsible for distracted driving is as absurd as calling for alcohol companies to be prosecuted when a drunk driver plows through a crowd, or as foolish as calling for a gun company to be held responsible when a police officer guns down an unarmed citizen. We must place responsibility where it is due: Selfish drunk drivers should be prosecuted, and trigger-happy policemen shouldn’t be allowed to remain on the force, let alone walk free. By that same standard, the individual who should be held responsible for distracted driving is … the distracted driver."
Jennifer Pittman, University of Phoenix:
"If app creators can come up with a block to eliminate or decrease the chances of consumers using their app while driving, why can’t the cell phone manufacturers? For example, a popular app that has decreased the chances of users on the app is Pokémon Go. Niantic, the creator of this app, has created a block that shows a warning covering the screen when the vehicle goes over 35 mph. The average person wouldn’t risk the chances of continually looking down while driving, especially if there’s traffic or the weather conditions are poor. Just imagine, one of the most popular cell phones in this industry with a preinstalled program that has a mechanism capable of stopping apps that are dangerous to use while driving. For instance, most teens today are in love with cell phones, and the number-one reason seems to be texting. If there was a block on at least a teen’s cell phone while driving, and the app had a program that keeps track of the speed you’re going, teens wouldn’t be able to talk, text, play games, or use any similar app. By doing this, it can prevent teenage deaths from texting and driving."
Nicholas Ramnarain, University of Florida:
"There are multiple reasons that a person could be involved in a distracted driving car accident. Distracted people could be grabbing something off of the floor, talking to their children, eating, or using their cell phones. If cell phone manufacturers were held responsible for all distracted driving accidents, then everyone would blame their collisions on cell phone use, even if they did not even have a cell phone in reach. People need to quit trying to blame their actions on other individuals or companies, and accept the blame for themselves."
Michael Reyes, University of North Texas:
"Cell phone manufacturers create their devices with such high stimulation, it’s almost hard not to look down at the device every two minutes. You are constantly getting updates and messages at such a constant rate it becomes difficult to put down for a second. This high amount of distracting stimulation gets carried over into the vehicle and is very dangerous, because both tasks cannot be tackled at once. The cell phone manufacturers are to blame for the amounts of stimulation a cell phone has because at the end of the day, they create the devices with such high stimulation levels."
Gayle J. "Gage" Richardson, University of Louisville, Brandeis School of Law:
"This continuous rise in both fatalities and traffic-related costs to taxpayers is intolerable and needs to be addressed by those truly responsible. [C]ell phone manufacturers should be held criminally negligent for their active role in the design and production of these tools without properly informing their consumers of their inherent risk associated with using them.
The truth is, sometimes we don’t know what’s best for our own good. Take, for example, the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1964, which required tobacco companies to print the Surgeon General’s warning on their tobacco products. This is a federal mandate that warns buyers of the inherent health risks of consuming tobacco. In today’s society, it is a general understanding that cigarettes are detrimental to one’s health. Back in the 1920s and 1930s, however, this was not a commonplace understanding, just as the understanding of how dangerous operating a cell phone and a motor vehicle was in the early 2000s. It took years and evidence from 7,000 different research studies concluding that cigarettes were toxic for the Surgeon General Luther Terry to be able to justify his warning labels. Prior to this acknowledgement, citizens had no real authority as to what the health effects of tobacco were, which explains the abundance of tobacco users in the '20 and '30s compared to the fraction of tobacco users in today’s society, where not as many people use tobacco products because they know the risks associated with it."
Kiera Ruddock, University of Alabama at Birmingham:
"Not only is holding phone manufacturers responsible for distracted driving unfair, but it also contributes to a litigious society with a lack of accountability. Let’s face it: Holding phone manufacturers accountable for distracted driving makes about as much sense as blaming Maybelline for the consequences of applying makeup while driving. Campaigns such as “Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks” and “It Can Wait” force people to face the unsettling statistics regarding driving while distracted. Also, according to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration, 94% of drivers would approve of outlawing text and driving. This proves that almost everyone is fully aware of the dangers of distracted driving, yet too many people make the decision to do it anyway. It is important to hold these people accountable for their own actions to prevent people from feeling removed from the consequences."
Juan Jose Salazar, California Polytechnic State University:
"[F]irst of all, we need to identify who should be held responsible for distracted driving. The obvious and only answer to this question is the driver. Each individual driver is responsible for his own actions. Each driver personally decides if he wants to use his cell phone while he is driving. Similarly, a responsible driver personally decides not to use his phone while he is driving because he understands the dangers. The last people that should be blamed for distracted driving should be cell phone manufacturers. In fact, most cell phone manufacturers warn their users about the dangers of texting and driving. In addition, Apple is about to release a feature that will block incoming calls, texts and notifications while a person is driving. Once again, it is up to the driver to decide if he will turn on this feature while he is driving."
Maria Sanders, University of California at Berkeley:
"To begin with, while it may be the case that cell phones are not sold with the intention of being used to text while driving, many features on smartphones do require consumers to focus on their phones while driving. For instance, the “Maps” application on the iPhone showcases a real-time display in which drivers can observe their route and watch the movement of virtual streets in order to get to their destination. This pre-programmed application entices drivers to visually confirm directions, effectively demanding drivers to be distracted during crucial times of decision-making on the road and putting themselves at severe risk of not observing potential hazards. Furthermore, even if a driver was attempting to use a phone hands-free such as by starting a call prior to driving, oftentimes the phone locks during the call and in order to end the call the driver must distract themselves by unlocking the phone and manually hitting the ‘end call’ button. These precious few seconds distracted by the product may lead to loss of life, and it is the design of the product that causes the distraction in the first place."
Noah Shakoor, University of Florida:
"All of the functions that we love on our smartphones can actually be used to help us get home safely. Our phones know where our friends and we live. They are able to predict where we are going based on the time of day and how fast it will take us to get there. They can accurately predict our car’s speed within a margin of error of a few miles per hour. Cellphone manufacturers can, and should, use this information to prevent people from using their phones while they are driving. However, it seems like they have passed this responsibility to software developers. There are apps that prevent you from getting notifications while driving. Waze, the directions app, doesn’t let you use it when you’re behind the wheel. Although these are steps in the right direction, much more can be done."
Kaelin Rose Tonroy, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Americorps:
"When I first looked at the prompt for this scholarship, I was like, 'Okay, this is easy. I’ll write about how it’s the person’s fault, not the phone manufacturer's, because ultimately, it’s their choice what they do with their phone...' But then I was having trouble making it sound interesting, and that’s when I remembered brain hacking. If you don’t know what that is, there was a 60 Minutes segment on brain hacking, and it was life changing. It was about this guy who realized there was something going on when people use their phones. He did a ton of research to find out that the people who make these devices are slowly making us more and more addicted to them. They say it’s like a slot [machine], because whenever you pick up your phone, it’s like you’re pulling the slot machine down and seeing what you get, whether or not you have likes or Snapchats or texts. In the video, they talk about when you sit there not on your phone, your brain keeps telling you to check it. [I]t makes you think you have a notification, and according to one of the guys in the video, more than half the time that you check your phone, you don’t have anything there. … Originally I would’ve thought it was your fault for being on your phone, but after hearing about brain hacking, it completely changed my mind."
Meredith Tracey, Temple University:
"Cell phone manufacturers lose their accountability the minute the device is out of their inventory and into the hands of its consumer. There is no doubt that texting and driving is a problem, but the owners of that problem are not cell phone manufacturers. Citizens of the United States have an obligation to follow the laws of the country, as well as state-specific laws. The widespread theory amongst society is as such; as an individual you are held accountable for any action you take part in from the time you are 18 years and older, in some cases even younger. The argument that cell phone manufacturers are to blame for high rates of distracted driving makes no sense, considering that theory. If an individual driving a car runs a red light, it is no one’s fault but the driver. We should not consider the car manufacturer responsible for that reckless decision."
Shivani Tumukuntala, University of Cincinnati:
"Even though multiple states have already banned the use of cell phones while driving for good reasons, not all have followed in their footsteps. Studies show that drivers who are actively on their phone while driving are four times more likely to get in a crash and eight times more likely if they are texting. These decisions are self-made decisions that avoid the usage of safer options such as Bluetooth, which is given by the manufacturer themselves leading to them having minimal to no responsibility for the distraction occurring."
Anika VanDeen, Washington State University:
"Cell phone manufacturers should not have to bear the burden of those who choose to drive distracted. In a recent survey called “It Can Wait” done by AT&T, the company found that 98% of drivers acknowledge that distracted driving is dangerous; however, 74% admit to doing it anyway. State Farm ran their own study called “Teens, Smartphones, and Distracted Driving,” which surveyed drivers ages 16-19. The survey found that 'the majority of teens understand that using their cellphone while driving is dangerous, and they also know that it is illegal. When asked why they still participate in these behaviors, top reasons included wanting to stay in touch with family and friends and “it is a habit.” Curing this social stigma is a collective social responsibility of the community, not the cell phone manufacturers, to educate people.'"
Bethany Walton, Florida A&M University:
"Distracted drivers should only hold themselves responsible for what distracted them. Whether it's the notification from a recent text or phone call from someone they know, everyone has a choice and this is in no way the manufacturer's fault for creating the cell phone to have such features. Every single person in this world has a choice to be distracted or not, and if a person knows some part of having their cell phone in the car will distract them, they should find ways to prevent them from looking at the phone."
Jessica Weed, University of New Mexico:
"With the introduction of cell phones into society, there were distractions brought on with them. They play a major role in most people’s lives and the usage of them while driving slowly became a major concern for safety. Though cell phone usage in the car creates a major distraction, it is no different than being distracted by anything else while driving. Therefore, it should be the driver’s responsibility to operate the vehicle safely, and if anything happens to go wrong due to being distracted, it is the person's fault and not the manufacturer of the item that caused the distraction. An example of distracted driving is messing with the radio or iPod. Should we make Apple or the radio stations responsible for that distraction?"
Samantha Wells, University of Wisconsin at Parkside:
"Cell phone manufacturers should not be responsible for distracted driving for three reasons. The first reason is that it is an individual’s conscious decision to use their cell phone during a time when it may not be safe or appropriate. Another reason that cell phone manufacturers should not be responsible for distracted driving is that safety is not necessarily their job. Lastly, cell phones are not the only items that create potentially distracting situations."
Insun Yoon, Johns Hopkins University:
"Texting and driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than drunk driving [distracteddriveraccidents.com]. Yet when I calculated the average fine for distracted driving in all 50 states from the statistics provided on the Department of Motor Vehicles website, ranging from $0-10,000, the average fine came out to be a measly $313.85. The outcomes of distracted and intoxicated driving are similar, and evidence shows that texting while driving has actually surpassed intoxicated driving in the number of teen deaths it causes every year. In 2013, Newsday reported that 'researchers at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park estimate more than 3,000 annual teen deaths nationwide from texting and 300,000 injuries.' This number exceeds the 'estimated 2,700 young people [who] die each year as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol and [the] 282,000... treated in emergency rooms for injuries suffered in motor-vehicle crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.' Yet again, the penalties are radically different: where intoxicated driving merits anything from installment of an ignition interlock device on the car to multiple years in jail, distracted driving earns anything from a year in jail to a slap on the wrist and the shake of a finger. Imagine: 303,000 crashes -- not unpredictable accidents, but preventable crashes -- punished by a warning and a fine, holding the same value as a car’s front fender sold on Amazon.com for $313.85. Is a life worth only a car’s front fender?"