Increased Smartphone Sales Good for Business, Bad for U.S. Drivers

Electronics industry analysts at International Data Corporation (IDC) are reporting that shipments of smartphones are set to increase by 23% in 2014, reaching a total of 1.2 billion smartphones shipped worldwide. By 2018, the firm estimates, shipments of these portable computers is on track to double within many developing regions of the world, places like India and China, with global levels expected to exceed 1.8 billion by that time.

While the news of increased shipments — markers of increased demand — is undoubtedly great news for both Apple and Google, the dominant forces in the world of smartphone technology, others aren’t so sure that the benefits of smartphone adoption aren’t outweighed by the risks. Parents of young drivers in the States have particular reason to worry that smartphones could actually bring greater risk than reward.

As Smartphone Adoption Increases, Deadly Accidents Become More Common
According to a study released by the National Safety Council in March 2014, over 25% of all car accidents in the United States are now caused by the usage of cellphones behind the wheel. With TIME further reporting that 84% of people worldwide can’t go a single day without using their cellphones — a clear sign of addiction — it can’t come as a surprise to anyone that we can’t even ignore our screens long enough to commute to school, to work, or elsewhere.

Young drivers in particular are proving to be the most likely to be in an accident when using a cellphone. Teens and young adults are already the demographic at highest risk for accidents, mostly due to their inexperience. When you throw in the younger generation’s constant connection to their mobile devices, you have a recipe for disaster. Kimberley Davis, a 21-year-old Australian woman, is a perfect example of the problem. In September 2013, Huffington Post reported that the woman had hit a bicyclist while allegedly using her smartphone. The bicyclist fractured his spine and spent months in the hospital, while Davis is quoted as saying, “I’m kind of [expletive deleted] that the cyclist has hit the side of my car. I don’t agree that people texting and driving could hit a cyclist…” when she was interviewed by police a few days after the accident.

And those comments highlight the biggest problem here: many drivers, both young and old, don’t believe that being on their phones while driving has any deleterious effects on their ability to operate their vehicles safely — that’s despite the studies showing that texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. Unless efforts are taken to educate drivers on the effects of driving and texting and law enforcement gets serious about cracking down on digitally distracted drivers, there’s no way that parents — or anyone on the road, for that matter — should see an uptick in the shipment of smartphones as a good thing.