Bird flu. Spanish flu. SARS. Zombification. Smallpox. These diseases strike fear into the hearts of hypochondriac humans everywhere, as well they should. We live on an overcrowded planet teeming with drug-resistant bacteria, unwitting biological terrorists like Gwyneth Paltrow in Contagion, and a CDC that, let’s be honest, probably plays an office-wide game of infectious disease roulette on the first Friday of every month. Some horrible plague is on the verge of consuming most of the world’s population, but we’ve all blithely ignored it, and will go on ignoring until it beep-boops into our ears and sends our cars careening off the interstate in a collective heap of metal, gasoline, and unrequited text messages. The plague of which I speak, of course, is texting-while-driving, or as dismayed scientists have taken to calling it, The Walking Dead virus.
That’s more or less the angle CBS has taken with its most recent coverage of what it calls the “epidemic” of texting while driving, whose victims are most likely to be heedless teenagers more preoccupied with their disintegrating social lives than they are with navigating the open road. According to CBS, most American teenagers are told not to drive and text, but, predictably, a lot of them seem to be flat-out ignoring such excellent advice:
Most American teenagers are told not to text and drive, but the evidence is millions are not listening.
In an analysis of a 2011 survey done by the Centers for Disease Control, 46 percent of drivers at age 17 admitted they texted while driving, a number that rose to 52 percent for drivers over 18.
The survey alarmed the research team because of evidence that distracted driving - including texting - is now the leading single cause of teenage fatalities.
Study co-author Dr. Andrew Adesman agrees that TWD is becoming “sort of epidemic,” and cautions that “the impairment that comes with texting is worse than drinking while driving." Not that teenagers will listen — teenagers don’t listen to anyone who isn’t a rock ‘n roll singer. The only solution, therefore, is to create a PSA of Adam Levine singing a don’t-text-while-driving message. Either that or make mobile phones illegal. Or release a zombie plague that will destroy our infrastructure and make both texting and driving completely obsolete. In the long-run, humanity will benefit.
Image via AP, LM Otero