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Mindfully Distracted in the 21stCentury

Technology makes life more convenient but it can also providethe opportunity to mindlessly wander through life relying on gadgets to run our lives.For example, we have smartphones that we can turn off, or put down, even when we’re driving. Yet without technology, how would the valet be able to track parking charges, or the doctor’s office know when to bill our insurance? This double-edged sword between our dependence on technology and the need to balance it certainly cuts deep from time to time, especially when we drive while distracted.

Texting and driving is a deadly activity that still happens way too often. Staggering statistics show that texting while driving isn’t slowing down any time soon. The CDC reports that in the U.S. alone, approximately nine people are killed every day and many more injured.Of the reported incidents, these vehicle incidents each involveda driver who was distracted.But it’s not just texting that can be a distraction for drivers.Teen drivers, who aren’t as experienced, are more likely to get in a crash while distracted and behind the wheel. Why?According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, teens have a slower reaction time than adults and it’s as slow as that of a 70-year-old when they’re driving while distracted.

Most state laws prohibit drivers from doing anything that involves their phones while driving, and this includes reading, writing, texting and emailing. The grey area comes to play when law enforcement discusses whether to cite the driver in question or stop them altogether. Another interesting question is how the officer would prove the person in fact using their device- would they get a warrant to subpoena the cell phone records? While texting is illegal in most states, some take the rules to a zero tolerance protocol and will cite a driver for merely handling their smartphone.

According to a 2013 survey by AT&T, adults are at fault for texting too. In fact, they admitted to texting more than teens which means that answering the call of the beep and seeing even though they know it’s wrong. Nearly half of the respondents admitted to texting while driving.

The science fiction-like notion that computers could take over human kind isn’t so farfetched anymore. Considering our culture’s impulse to stay ‘tuned in’ at all times, smartphones could rule the world.Is the obvious apathy towards safety on the part of busy people on cell phone an excusable act? Or, is the issue more about the lack of adherence to basic common sense and moral standards that are impacting our safety?Some believe there should be a set of rules that accommodate using cell phones – one that would ensure safety so one wouldn’t be texting and driving, or walking into traffic with their eyes glued on their phones.

The debate about technology continues. There are those who believe that we rely too much on technology and it’s robbed us of mindfulness. Others focus on themore positive impacts of technology, including improved speed of manufacturing and opportunities for conveniences that our ancestors only dreamt about.It’s hard to ignore the innovations that make our lives easier – includingsoftware that bridges the gap between the valet and the driver allowing a text to the valet to have keys pulled from the valet box before the driver arrives (akin to a portable key box), or the manufacture of items such as valet parking equipment to ensure the valet outfits run smoothly. These types of innovations would not have been possible without technology.

Perhaps the solution is as simple as finding a balance between our dependence on technology and mindfully co-existing with the revolutions that were birthed from it? That means absolutely no texting while driving, but you certainly can text the valet from the restaurant to have him bring the car around.