“Can you not use your phone while driving please?” “F*** off.” This is a pretty standard interaction that occurs when I’m walking on campus, see a distracted driver, and ask them to hang up. I find it strange that the driver usually gets mad or annoyed at me, when they’re the one endangering not only their life, but the lives of everyone around them. Texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to crash your car, and is six times more dangerous than driving intoxicated. These numbers should scare you. With students constantly crossing the street, and often also distracted by their phone while doing so, an injury or fatality is imminent. NOTHING on your phone is that important that you have to tend to it while driving. If it’s an emergency, pull over and park first.
As you might guess, most of the drivers I see on campus using their phone while driving are young students. However, something that infuriates me is the other group of offenders: UConn employees. These drivers are supposed to be under heavier scrutiny, being both employees of the state and driving state vehicles. But as it turns out, these are some of the worst drivers on campus. Just this past week, I’ve seen four UConn Facilities employees using their phone while driving through pedestrian-dense areas, in addition to the numerous other drivers I’ve seen over the last few years including Mail Services, Parking Services, and even the UConn Police.
Last year, I contacted the police department to find out what they were doing to address this dangerous epidemic, and was told that it’s “difficult for officers to see the violation, as most people who text while driving hold the phone below the window line.” And that’s because most officers simply drive around campus in their patrol cars. When I walk on the sidewalk, I can see well below the window line, and phone usage is obvious. If the police department really does feel seriously about this issue, they need to have undercover officers walking the sidewalks as well.
I do not feel safe walking on this campus with the amount of drivers, both students and employees, using their phones. The university needs to work harder to combat this issue.
-Adam Weber, Civil Engineering ‘17