The Web isn't Worth Dying for

Jeff Morosoff, Special Asst. Professor, Hofstra University

As we prepare for a Week Without the Web at Hofstra, we can also celebrate how connected we are.  But when the Internet becomes deadly, we need to re-think the times and places we are too connected.

I’m referring to distracted driving.  A Consumer Reports study finds that 63 percent of drivers under 30 and 41 percent over 30 have used a handheld phone while driving in the previous month; one-third of the younger drivers texted while behind the wheel.  “Sixteen percent of all teenage drivers involved in a fatal crash have reported to have been distracted while driving,” notes the article in CR’s April issue.  More than half of us, the study says, have witnessed a dangerous situation related to a driver using a hand-held device.  I know that when I’ve passed and looked at a driver who’s traveling too slow in the left lane or drifting into my lane, it’s almost always because they’re texting or talking or surfing the Internet.

OK, I’ll admit that in the past I’ve texted while driving maybe half a dozen times.  As I found myself drifting into another lane or braking at the last second, I realized how stupid and careless this was.  So I’ve committed to putting the cell phone down for good when I’m behind the wheel.  It’s against the law and very dangerous to text while driving but it’s not stopping a lot of drivers from doing it.  Wrecking your car and your life–and maybe someone else’s–is really not worth using the web for something that can wait. 

When it comes to enjoying the web while we’re driving, it seems to me that we’re far too connected.  The Internet has to take a back seat during our Week Without the Web — and EVERY time we get behind the wheel.  Your thoughts?

13 thoughts on “The Web isn't Worth Dying for

  1. Alyssa

    Over the years texting while driving has become a fatal problem. I have caught myself wanting to check my phone while driving and actually doing so at times. It is of course a huge distraction while on the road and its something that I have thought about seriously over the past few months. I make an effort to not text while driving and if I really cant not respond I wait til a red light (which is still bad I know) This is one of the casualities of living in a society thats way too connected. We need to reprioritize our lives when we are willing to risk it in order to answer a text message or check facebook.

  2. artur

    The topic of using the internet and phone while driving creates so much hypocrisy. I don’t want to offend anyone but as I read all the comments about the danger of texting and driving and solutions and so on I began to think about how little understand the problem does for solving the problem. How many lost lives and car accidents will it take for people to really stop texting and driving. What has to happen for people to stop revolving their lives around the internet? We can talk about this for days but it won’t stop any of us from looking at our phones when it beeps while we are driving. Everyone recognizes how dangerous this issue is becoming but nothing is changing. If something threatens our lives nowadays we sort of put it aside because our lives are so busy. We often put problems like this aside because we have so many others. While it take a car accident for you to stop texting? Will it take us losing the internet to understand that we are often unable to function in the world without it? These are important questions to ask and have answered if we are to progress.

  3. Melissa DiMercurio

    Looks like you would be willing to sign Oprah’s contract to No Texting and Driving! PR plug? News story? Lets get you on Oprah!

  4. Charlsie

    It’s so funny, well not funny but interesting that you wrote about this. This weekend I was getting the old peepers checked and to get an updated prescription for new glasses. The Optimologist was on his IPhone (don’t worry this is okay because he is my boyfriends uncle) and he was using the Face Time application. IT WAS AWESOME.

    Alas, the texting and driving issue is unrelated but, it is interesting to see how rapidly technology is progressing and how we are attempting to adapt to the progress but its nearly impossible to go from doing something that requires a lot of attention, to multi-tasking which divides that attention.

    And for the record I don’t think its worth it, to risk my life and others to check a text message. I just put my cell phone in my bag and put that out of reaching distance.

  5. agarone

    In today’s society it is the norm to be accessible at all times. If I don’t respond to a text message within minutes of receiving it, my friends think I am mad at them. In reality, I could be in class, at work, at they gym, driving, or in another situation where being on my phone is inappropriate. Sometimes it is suffocating to be so available at all times, although I can’t imagine living in today’s world without a smart phone. We have become so accustomed to always being on our phones. Sometimes I feel we should all put it aside for an hour or so and take a break.

  6. Briana DeLuca

    I think you bring up a very good point on how addictive we have become to ALWAYS being in touch. Unfortunately, I do text when I drive because I feel the need to answer a text at that moment. I do understand that the text will be there when I can answer in a safer way, but I still feel like I must answer. This illustrates how dependent I really am on the Internet and on texting. As I try to cut the habit, I realize how difficult the Week Without the Web will be. I am up for the challenge; however, because I do want to acknowledge the place the Internet plays in the 21st century. The School of Communication initiative is very fascinating to me. I hope to make it throughout the week as I learn the deepest understanding of life with and without the Internet.

  7. Danielle Pasquariello

    As many others have confessed, I too am guilty of texting behind the wheel. However, if I do text, it’s while I am at a light or at a complete stop. I find if I try to type or text while my car is moving, I can’t drive properly. I don’t see how some people can text or surf the web while driving at higher speeds, like on a parkway. I think that no text is worth the risk or getting into an accident or far worse. If the text was that important, you should just pull over and deal with it. I know a few people that have gotten into fender benders because they were texting while driving. When I spoke to them, they were so embarrassed that they got into an accident for texting. For people who find themselves tempted, they should put their phones on silent or in the back seat so they are not even tempted to grab it while driving. Plain and simple, it’s just not worth the risks.

  8. Pete Guaraldi

    When it comes to texting, I only do it at red lights. I’ve seen the horror stories on those fluffy talk shows or PSAs.

    However, I am in a bad habit when it comes to talking on the phone while driving. I do not use the phone hand held, but we all can admit it is distracting.

    I always say I’ll get better about it, but I haven’t unfortunately. Maybe I can take a step in the positive direction for when I have a passenger in the car with me, he or she can handle my phone calls.

  9. Jacqueline Chiapuzzi

    I will also admit that i sometimes do go on my cell phone while driving, but surfing the web is something a little different. In a day & age where 2nd graders have cell phones it’s hard for people to step away from them for even minutes at a time. For many it’s hard to even image life before cell phones and for most smart-phones for that matter. My 17 year old cousin just got a car and his license, i worry about him when he drives sometimes because he grow up in an age where the cell phone was always around from birth. where for myself having a law where you can’t be on you’r cell phone while driving wasn’t an issue until a few years ago. For my younger cousin it’s always been.

  10. Sarah Facciolo

    I can admit myself that have texted and looked at my phone while I was driving. I totally agree it is the most dangerous thing in the world. But because of our technology it has gotten easier to have our Internet with us at all times and we forget that we are driving. It was very sad to read the facts that you put in your blog Professor Morosoff. I hope that percentage does go down and people take it more seriously to not text or use their phones in the car while driving. I really do thing that WWW event will really make a big difference too.

  11. kcefai

    As many others have admitted, I too have been guilty of texting and driving and at moments find myself quickly saving myself from a “could of been” car accident. It is funny when you think about it, you read about accidents that occur because of it and you witness first hand the dangers from using your cell phone while driving, however we still can not find out selves to fully stop and leave the phone alone till we reach out destination. As if waiting those few extra minutes could mess up a conversation or give the person on the other side of the phone the wrong impression. I think we have grown so adapted to this world of constant information and conversation, that even at times we get so frustrated when a message doesn’t even go through right away or if the internet is slow, but we never stop to think about how incredible it is that we are given this opportunity to be able to do things like this. The internet and enhancements of cellular devices have taken a positive and negative toll on our lives, and to go a week without it seems impossible!

  12. Caitlin Brown

    I’ll admit that I’ve also been guilty of texting while driving – more like texting any time when my car is stopped (not that this makes a difference). I think it’s ridiculous people actually surf the web while driving – I can’t even imagine trying to do that. What I’ve noticed helps me to ignore my phone while I’m in the car: TURN OFF THE VOLUME. If I don’t hear the ‘pop’ to signal a text message, then I won’t feel compelled to check my phone. However, the second I hear my phone going off, I do feel the need to see who emailed me; who texted me; etc. We’ve grown used to the instantaneous connection and responses to our friends and family, and our phones might as well be medically attached to our hands. But what people don’t think to do – simply turn it off.

  13. Alexander Petrucelli

    While I consider myself a safe driver, I have texted, tweeted or messaged while operating a vehicle. Usually at red lights though; it could be worse, but it is still a problem…the worst example I can recall was Xmas Eve, when I recieved the confirmation about being cast in a Broadway show. I could not take my eyes off my phone for miles(nor could I stop screaming, but who wouldn’t…)

    WWW will teach us many things (like how dependent we are on the Internet obviously), but having Internet on my phone has been a life-saver. Without it, and the ability to mapquest directions for example, I would still be lost in some forest in upstate New York…from driving three months ago; no exaggeration. When I have to mapquest something or look up info. on the Internet, I usually pull over or stop at some place instead of doing it while driving.

    Being distracted on the phone has joined the ranks of speeding, not using directionals, cutting people off…all those tasks people can conduct without hurting someone *most* of the time…I have never seen a cop pull over anyone for being on a cell phone, let alone surfing the web. And quite frankly, if someone were to get caught, the argument can be made that the other hundreds of thousands of people doing the same thing should be caught too and usually aren’t. Law enforcement…hardly effective when it comes to driving.

    Granted, we compact our problem by text messaging “r u here yet?” or “Wut r the plans?” and such. We all would be smarter if we took the time to realize that texting someone while he or she is driving is not making their lives easier or encouraging them to make safer decisions.

    It does say a lot about our culture about how connected we want to be if we cannot put down out phone during 15 minutes of driving. Being in PR, we make our living off of being in the know…being the first to know gets us noticed and starts a buzz. Of the many things we can learn about Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and “The Social Network,” there is a lot of value about being the first…even if it is not always a 25 billion dollar company.


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