You’re sitting in stop-and-go traffic on the busy freeway on a Monday morning. You hear the “ding” of your cell phone alerting you that you received a text message. You look around at the cars that are moving at a snail’s pace. Do you grab the phone quickly to see who sent a message and send a quick response or do you leave your phone alone? If you are quick to answer the text and respond back, you’re not alone. Thousands of drivers are guilty of texting and driving on U.S. roadways every day, despite the laws prohibiting the dangerous act.
In an age where we’re used to receiving and having instant access to information, it’s difficult for many drivers to leave their cell phones alone. While you may feel the constant pressure to be “available” at all times, particularly when you’re on the road, you should reconsider your texting and driving habit. Not only is it illegal in a large handful of states, but it can also have deadly consequences.
The Dangers of Texting and Driving
Texting while driving makes a crash up to 23 times more likely and according to DoSomething.org, the minimal amount of attention that a driver who texts takes away from the road is about five seconds. If you are traveling 55 mph, this short amount of attention away from the road equals driving the length of a football field while blindfolded. You wouldn’t attempt that, would you? You shouldn’t text and drive, either.
Many drivers point the finger at teen drivers being the only offenders of texting and driving, but in reality, drivers of any age are guilty of texting while behind the wheel. While younger drivers are more likely to drive distracted (including cell phone use), take a look around and you’re likely to notice that motorists of all ages are distracted drivers.
Each year, cell-phone related distractions play a role in fatal crashes across the U.S. For example, between 2010 and 2013, 198 fatal crashes due to cell phone use occurred on Texas roads (although the number is most likely higher due to underreporting or lack of proof).
If It’s So Dangerous, Why Does Everyone Do It?
Despite the laws and the dangers associated with texting and driving, one may argue, “Why do I still see drivers doing it?” Even if you don’t engage in texting and driving, you know when another driver is. Some telltale signs is a driver’s inability to stay within the lanes, slowing down, and looking down more than looking forward. Cell phone use is addicting for many drivers and if not taken care of, can become a deadly addiction.
Texting and driving interferes with a driver’s ability to stay on task. Let’s face it, multi-tasking doesn’t exist and it certainly doesn’t belong behind the wheel. Even when you hear the “ding” of an alert, your attention automatically switches to the phone. Next, your brain is trying to decide whether or not you should retrieve your phone or leave it alone. If you grab your phone you’re taking a hand off the wheel. When you read the text, your eyes and attention is off the road, and if you respond, you are completely inattentive to the act of driving.
Although texting and driving remains a rampant issue on our roadways, you can change your driving habits by putting your cell phone out of reach when driving or downloading a texting and driving prevention app from your cell phone carrier.