Yep. Again. And you’ll probably hear about the dangers of texting and driving many more times. Again and again and again.
Why? Well, you can probably guess the answer: because it’s that important to know just how dangerous texting and driving is, and if sharing this information can help keep someone safe, then all the more reason to drill it in to everyone.
So let’s talk about it.
Considering it’s something small enough to hold in one hand, cell phones hold a powerful position in our daily lives.
Cell phones, and technology in general, can be so convenient. Phones nowadays might as well be called mini computers. Not only do we call and text on them, but we also have access to the Internet as well as so many apps that we can do anything from playing games to working on our phones.
Smart phones are a great invention, and they have definitely impacted our culture and how we go about our daily lives. So, don’t get me wrong, this article isn’t about cell phone bashing. It’s about making sure we’re the ones in control, that we’re using our phones and our phones aren’t using us.
Bzzz! Your phone vibrates, and your eyes automatically dart toward it. Is it an app notification? Did someone text you? What’s waiting for you when you unlock the screen? More likely than not, you want to drop whatever you’re doing and check your phone.
I think of this as the Itch/Scratch Response because just like an itch that we automatically try to scratch when we first feel it, we’ve grown accustomed to automatically responding when our phone goes off. And if we don’t scratch that itch or check our phones right away, it’s a constant pinging in our head that we should.
It might not be fun to admit, but our phones have us pretty well trained.
Let’s tie this back into texting and driving. You’re in the car, your phone goes off, and you take one hand off the steering wheel to reach for it….
Wait. Stop! Did you really do that?
But your eyes and hand were only focused on your phone for a few seconds right? Besides you’re so fast at using your phone that you’re, dare I say it?, good at using your phone while driving. And if you’re good at it, then you must not be a hazard, right?
Hmmm…let’s see about that.
It’s hard to be 100% distraction proof. For survival purposes, our bodies are wired to react when there is a change in our environment, but that response is supposed to keep us safe. Distracted driving, on the other hand, makes our environment more dangerous.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) points out that there are three types of distraction we are susceptible to while driving. They are visual, manual, and cognitive.
Visual distractions consist of anything that pulls your eyes away from focusing on the road. Manual distractions happen when you remove a hand or both hands from the steering wheel. Cognitive distractions involve things that draw your mind away from the task of driving.
When you text and drive you are engaging in all three distraction types to some extent, and while it may not seem like your distracted long enough to for it to be anything to worry about, those few seconds that you’re glancing at your screen can mean hundreds of yards going by without you watching the road. And that’s a long time to be driving blind.
“Multitasking” is a word we hear a lot. We like to think we are capable of doing many things at once, and that it is more efficient. However, studies have found that there is no such thing as true multitasking. Turns out your brain can’t process two separate things simultaneously. Instead, your brain flips back and forth between each task you are trying to do.
In other words, it is impossible to truly handle using your phone and being cognitively aware of what’s going on around you at the same time.
Sometimes there’s nothing like some cold, hard facts to help people grasp a situation. In that case, here are some data gathered from 2012-2018 about texting and driving for your brain to munch over.
So just how many people are texting and driving? And which age groups do it the most? The biggest chunk of people documented as using their cell phones while driving is those in their 20s, followed by those in their 30s, and then those in their late teens.
These are the age groups whose decision to not use their phones to text and drive can have the largest impact on texting and driving statistics overall. Everyone should put down their phone while driving, but if you’re in this age range, your even more of a key player in keeping roads safe in regard to this issue.
On September 15, 2016, the Scherer’s and their two children, Logan (9) and Mallory (5), were driving down Interstate 75. They slowed the car to a stop when they came upon traffic.
Unfortunately, another driver did not stop in time and rammed into the back of their car. It turned out this driver had been texting and surfing the Internet while driving.
Both injured parents survived. Sadly 9 year-old Logan died, and little Mallory had serious injuries, including a broken femur.
It’s a sad story that could have easily been avoided, and that’s what the Scherer’s are stressing with their nonprofit Living for Logan. They advocate against using phones while driving and are pushing for stricter laws and punishments in regard to driving and handling a phone. The Scherer’s can’t get their son back, but they want to stop the same tragedy from happening to other families.
We’ve heard a lot about texting and driving leading to wrecks. These incidents might cause serious injury or death. We might even know someone that experienced this, but have you ever stopped to think what other consequences can come when you let your phone barge in on your driving time?
As with other tickets, a ticket for texting and driving will show up in your insurance records, and that most likely means an increase in your car insurance rates. Insurers in all states have penalties for distracted driving as of 2017. In fact, your rate could go up as much as 16%. And that’s not a pretty sight.
Aside from Montana, Arizona, and Missouri, all other states have a texting ban. So, chances are high that wherever you’re driving and texting, you are doing something illegal on top of it being something dangerous.
Breaking this law could result in a misdemeanor, and if someone is hurt as a result of you texting and driving you could end up spending time in jail or prison.
With getting caught breaking the law by texting and driving comes a ticket and a fine. How much the fine costs varies by state. For some, a first time offense will cost you as little as $20 (California) while for others it could reach as high a price as $200 (Nebraska). If you want to know what a texting and driving ticket could cost you in the state you live in you can check out this site.
Having a record for texting and driving won’t always affect your chances of getting a job, but according to backgound checking websites, offenses involving reckless driving (which texting and driving would fall under) can appear on a criminal record.
Employers will most likely be influenced by your driving record if you are applying for a job that requires you to drive. Some of these include working for a trucking or taxi business. However, it doesn’t look good on your record either, especially if someone was hurt because of texting and driving.
With the proportion of texting and driving going on in the world, it might feel like what you choose to do won’t change anything, but there are ways you can make a difference. And they are so easy to implement.
Sometimes the old saying “out of sight, out of mind” really rings true. The simplest way to ensure that you don’t use your cell phone while driving is to put it somewhere you can’t see it and can’t reach it. There are a number of places to hide your phone before you start driving. You can put it in the glove compartment or even in the backseat. Placing it inside a zipped up purse or bag can muffle any notification sounds that can be distracting If you’re really worried about hearing your phone going off and being tempted to get it, you can set your phone to silent while you’re in the car.
You might be surprised at how many people you know look to you as an example. It could be a younger sibling, a niece, a nephew, or even a friend. Take steps to prevent yourself from texting and driving and let others see it. Our actions tend to impact others more than our words. If those around you see you care about driving safely, they might start to care more too.
You are already on your way with this one. You’ve taken the time to read this article, and some of the information has already seeped into your brain. Now you know more about why texting and driving is bad, and gaining knowledge about a subject helps you make better decisions.
Another thing you can do is follow the example of Logan’s parents from the story earlier. You can set out to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and let people in government know this is a topic that deserves discussion and action in order to help keep people safe.
When it comes to driving, just seconds of distraction can have a huge impact on our lives. Not only that, but it can cost us our lives or the lives of others around us. Each one of us behind the wheel has a responsibility to drive safely. You’re not just driving for you when you’re out there on the road. You’re also driving for everyone around you.
So, go ahead. Put the phone down.