A way to save lives: A Deadly Wandering – Book Review

An excellent resource on texting and driving

April 2, 2017

By Shondell Babb 

Everyone should read “A Deadly Wandering”, by Matt Richtel, especially in this electronic age.

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It’s an important book about the lives tragically lost, because of texting and driving. The previous research outlined in the book has helped modern day society arrive at the current laws and conversation about texting and driving.

Richtel’s writing style is easy to read, his interviewing notes are meticulous and he incorporated a vast array of related scientific and statistical research into the topic.

However, there should be a condensed version of the book, to cut out the overwhelming and unnecessary details about all the characters.

State Trooper Bart Rindlisbacher instincts dead-on.

What I loved about the book is how Rindlisbacher was convinced, based on this observation and instinct, that it was Reggie’s’ texting that caused the accident. He was determined to prove the cause-and-effect and eventually did.

Outstanding scientific research outlined

I liked how all the emerging neuroscience research in areas like attention, distraction and internet addiction were intertwined.

Psychologist Dr. David Strayer’s scientific research outlined in Chapter 24—proving that texting and driving is comparable to driving drunk—was mind blowing.

“Also in 2003, he made a presentation at the International Symposium on Human Factors showing that cell phone use impaired drivers to the same level as .08 blood alcohol content, the level of legal intoxication in most states.” ­–p. 229

Too many useless character details 

But the insightful research gets bogged down by too many character profiles. If extra fat like that was trimmed, the book could be cut down from the 390 pages. It makes me wonder why the book editor didn’t cut the clutter.

For example, Chapters 8 and 15 were devoted entirely to Terryl Danielson’s traumatic childhood and career as a victim’s advocate. Terryl has a supporting role in the story. Reggie’s accident took place in 2006, yet the following details were included in the book:

“TERRYL, AFTER MUCH CONSULTATION with April, decided to go on a LDS mission, to Costa Rica, in July 1989.”– p. 131

The only relevant details in Chapter 15 are that Terryl met Jackie Furfaro (victim’s wife) at Air-Bound gym. Yet this unnecessary chapter droned on for seven pages.

Why this book decreases distracted driving temptations

Reading the book affected me through repetition. Reading about research and repeated commentary on the subject matter of texting and driving helped to hammer the message home, even though I am aware of the no-texting legislation in Winnipeg.

The statistics are always what impresses me since they’re based on legitimate research and facts, not someone’s opinion.

More texting and driving awareness campaigns needed

In Chapter 27, Dr. Greenfield calls youth who are raised on electronic devices “Generation D”.

“They’re so amped up on dopamine that when it’s not firing, they feel dull, dead,” he says. And that means they need to move on to the next thing, quickly, rather than staying with something. “They have no threshold for attentional capacity.” -P. 217-218

The section goes on to explain that youth aren’t the only demographic that’s concerning, but they’re more vulnerable because their brains and frontal lobes are still developing

Since many people are addicted to mobile devices, the temptation to text and drive is still high, which means on-going campaigns are necessary to save more lives.