What is the most striking change in deathcare have we witnessed in the last decade?
That was a question which a friend recently posed to us.
Obviously, the rapid growth in cremation across the country is evident to everyone involved in final disposition procedures. If it had been suggested ten years ago that nine states would have cremation rates that exceed seventy percent, we would have been skeptical — but such is the case today.
But another change is probably just as striking, just as revealing about how our society works these days. And that is the impact texting has had on the funeral industry.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 9 people die every day due to distracted driving. The Center also estimates that over 1,000 automobile accidents occur for the same reason.
What exactly is distracted driving?
The Center defines it this way: visual (eyes off the road); manual (hands off the wheel) and cognitive (mind is not on driving) impairment.
Texting qualifies on all three counts.
If you send or read a text while driving, it is estimated that you are distracted for at least five seconds. If you are going approximately 55 miles an hour that gives you enough time to drive the length of a football field, which is 300 yards.
Given the risk factors, it’s no wonder that every year about 2.5 million people are injured in cars while texting; around 3,500 are killed.
Who is most at risk? Younger drivers — that’s because younger people do more texting than their elders. Younger drivers are also most likely to ignore wearing a seat belt.
But while texting is most popular among the young, it is not exclusively a pursuit of that age group: to quote songwriter supreme, Irving Berlin, “everybody’s doing it now.”
The first text — which consisted of two words, Merry Christmas — dates back to 1992. By the year 2000, the average person with a device was sending or receiving approximately 35 texts a month.
That was a different world.
2007 marked the first year that smartphone users received more texts than phone calls.
Today, there are 22 billion (that’s billion with a b) worldwide texts sent each day. Almost 9 billion (another b) of those are sent in the United States.
Text messaging is the most used data service on the planet.
Surprisingly, the fastest growing demographic in texting is the 45 -65 year old age group. Overall, the 18-24 year olds in this country text the most, but it’s a practice that is heavily used by everyone who owns a cell phone (that’s more than 80 percent of us).
About 30 percent of those who text would rather receive a text than a telephone call.
These numbers are staggering, and as one could expect, not without some negative consequence. Sure, the convenience of texting saves time, cuts down on lengthy conversations and generally fits in with the pace of the way we function. But, it does take a toll on the frequent user.
If you are on the smartphone two to four hours a day texting, the strain on your eyes is palpable. There is a condition called computer vision syndrome, which also exists among those who use computers extensively, that can arise. Some argue that texting also leads to having unnecessary exposure to radiation.
There is a growing body of evidence that attention span and memory can impacted. Headaches and “text neck” pain are not uncommon.
While these are mildly negative problems, there is no doubt that texting while driving falls into a completely different category — it is potentially a killer.
Currently, 47 states have banned texting from behind the wheel, but from a personal observation standpoint, how often do you see it while you are making your way down the road?
We suspect this problem is a long way from being solved. And we also suspect that at Martin Oaks Cemetery and Crematory we will see the deadly results continue.
It’s a shame because this is a voluntary behavior which does not need to take lives.