Make texting while driving illegal in Delhi

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Yesterday the rain Gods blessed parched Delhi and gave us the perfect opportunity to go on a drive. We were having a great time until an suv swooshed past us with a young driver, in his early 20's at its helm, texting while driving. Unaware of the fact that green light had turned into red, he rammed his car into the one in front of him. While I had read several articles about accidents caused by texting while driving, this was an eye opener for me. This incident motivated me to start this petition.  

It has been well documented that texting while driving causes many distractions viz.:

  1. Visual distractions - You definitely can not see what's on the road if your eyes are glued to the phone, even if its momentarily.
  2. Manual distractions - With one hand managing your phone, often the right one, you are steering only with the left hand. It is a no brainer to figure out in which case you will have better control on the car - with phone or without.
  3. Auditory distractions - When our mind is elsewhere, we often do not hear everything around us. Our senses often do not multitask, however hard we may want them to.
  4. Cognitive distractions - When talking to someone, our mind is not just processing a) what we hear/read, but also b) how we should respond and even c) how the other person may react. Surely, all this takes away the mind’s focus from where it should be - on driving! On the vehicles and people around...on the road ahead...on the signals and signages!

Formal research by a group at IIT Mumbai in 2017 validates it further. This research was carried out on 100 licensed drivers from the city of Mumbai on how using mobile phones while driving, distracts drivers and increases their reaction time. 

The age groups they focused on varied from young to middle aged to old:
a) Below 30 years of age (classified as "young")
b) Between 30 to 50 years (classified as "mid-age")
c) Above 50 years (classified as "old").

The participants were subjected to 5 different driving scenarios using a simulator.

- In the first case, they drove without a cellphone.

- In the second case, they were given a phone and asked to have a simple conversation.

- In the third case, they were put into complex conversations by asking questions around mathematical computations or logical puzzles.

- In the fourth case, the drivers were made to type short text messages of upto 10 characters.

- In the last case, the drivers were asked to type long text messages while driving.

For each of these scenarios, the total drive was 3.5 kilometres, and had a parked vehicle or a pedestrian crossing the road. The researchers then measured the reaction time for each driver. In case of the pedestrian crossing the road, drivers having a simple conversation took 40% longer to react, compared to those who did not use a phone. The scenario where drivers indulged in complex texting caused a whopping 204% increase in the reaction time.The results were similar when there was a parked vehicle. In this case a simple conversation caused a 48% increase in reaction time while complex texting caused a 171% increase. When it comes to degrading driving performance, both talking and texting are equal culprits.

Therefore, it is high time that we pledge not to text or talk while driving. Join me in my pledge and in spreading this petition forward.

I PLEDGE NOT TO TEXT OR TALK WHILE I DRIVE.