New documentary exposes how much we love our smartphones

“I don’t even realize half the time how much I actually use my phone [while driving], it kind of just happens … I’m lucky that I haven’t had an accident yet.” So says one of the subjects in a new documentary featuring five Australians in Melbourne hooked on their smartphones to such an extent that “common sense and self-preservation” go out of the window.

Directed by award-winning filmmaker Eva Orner, It’s People Like Us features plenty of terrifying footage of guys and gals using their smartphone behind the wheel, despite each one of them acknowledging the dangers posed by such behavior.

“I know it’s not safe but I still feel like I’m not going to have a crash,” one of the subjects says in the just-released film.

The release of the short comes as Australia’s Transport Accident Commission released data showing that half of drivers aged between 18 and 30 in the Australian state of Victoria check their handset immediately when they receive a message while motoring along.

Orner said that with smartphone users checking their devices an average of 150 times a day, “phone attachment has become ingrained in our everyday lives.”

She continues, “We haven’t established boundaries on when and where it’s OK to use our phones, resulting in a profound impact on our behaviour, our relationships, and our personal health and safety.”

The filmmaker says she hopes the documentary will “get each and every one of us to think about how we use our phones in everyday life, question how they have become an extension of ourselves, and inspire change and self-regulation.”

Toward the end of the film, one of the subjects says: “I’m very sure one day I’m going to be checking my phone at the lights thinking it’s all good and an undercover cop car is going to pull me up and I’m going to be caught red-handed … I know it’s going to happen.” Of course, the fact that she’s gone on in front of a camera to admit her dodgy driving behavior should make it a little easier for cops to catch her in the act.

“Their argument is that they’re only using it at the lights but the problem is their attention is all centered on the phone,” one of the officers says in the documentary. “The light goes green, they’re still looking at it when they’re driving forward; you could get a pet run across, you could get a bike coming in the way. It may not be your fault because you’ve got a green light, but you’ve got to live with the fact that you’ve killed someone, it’s as simple as that.”

You can watch It’s People Like Us on YouTube.

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