08 Apr All You Need to Know About Texting and Driving
Overview: Texting while driving is just as distracting as driving with your eyes closed, and doing it could have devastating results
We all know the feeling of driving then suddenly remembering an important text or email we were supposed to send. The urge to drive and text could seem more important at the moment than safe driving. But it’s far easier to develop a habit of texting while driving if you do it once than not at all.
Smartphones have made it easy for us to stay in touch all the time, but this ease has come with a few concerns. If someone decides to check their messages, missed calls, or emails while driving, there are fair chances of posing severe safety risks.
Let’s address some of the common dangers of texting while driving, including statistics and the science behind the vice.
HOW MANY PEOPLE TEXT AND DRIVE?
“America has a dangerous epidemic of texting while driving that strongly increases the risk to everyone on the roads. At any given moment, 660,000 drivers are using a cell phone while operating a vehicle. According to the NHTSA, every year, about 400 fatal crashes are caused by texting and driving.” Source.
There were 36,750 deaths due to car accidents, and 5% of fatalities were by drivers texting/talking on their cellphones while driving.
THE DANGERS OF USING A CELLPHONE WHILE DRIVING :
Distracted driving rates are alarmingly high – taking your eyes off the road has disadvantages. In fact, this 2018 report claimed 400,000 people were severely injured due to distracted driving. And the drivers were between the ages of 16 to 24 – using a handheld device.
With so many underage and less experienced drivers using distracting devices, the magnitude of accidents – and, thus, the fatalities – are on the rise. But what is the real reason behind our addiction to texting, even at the cost of our safety on the road?
When you’re engaged in a conversation with someone sitting next to you, incoming calls or messages can easily divide your attention. We might think of ourselves as being great multitaskers — enough to pay attention to the road and converse at the same time.
However, the prevailing cause of driving incidents and crashes aren’t always linked to intoxicated or aggressive drivers. These crashes happen because people overestimate their abilities to pay attention to more than one important thing at a time, and end up losing focus on one task. Sad to say, this task could sometimes be safe driving.
What Science Says About Our Ability to Multitask:
As you go about your day with a scheduled routine, you may barely notice that you’re multitasking. Multitasking can be anything from playing music in the background while writing an assignment, to watching a Netflix series while scrolling down Facebook. As we mentioned previously, texting a friend while driving is also an example of multitasking (albeit, a dangerous one because you’re putting your life and others’ at risk).
With that being said, multitasking might be possible… but only to an extent. As no person can perform two high-level tasks simultaneously with the same amount of attention.
>> Related Article: Can People Multitask?
How Multitasking Affects Your Brain:
At times, multitasking develops a sense of anxiety, not only in your brain but in your overall body, because your brain continues juggling two different but equally important priorities at once.
Some studies have even claimed that multitasking results in budding negative emotions, making a person more impatient and irritable, leading to chronic stress.
While multitasking sounds like a fantastic way to get a lot completed in a minimum amount of time, research shows that our brain isn’t all that great at handling two or more things; doing so tends to hamper productivity, reduce comprehension, and decrease overall performance.
How multitasking slows you down:
While it might be contrary to popular belief, it’s psychologically proven that we work slow and less efficiently when we’re multitasking. Psychology calls it task switch cost – a negative effect of switching from task to task.
What we encounter as a cost is the slower working pace because the brain demands more mental exertion to jump from one thing to another. Regarding texting and driving, we notice that we’ll either text slower or have more typos, or we’ll drive slower or swerve or break more often.
BREAKING THE HABIT OF TEXTING WHILE DRIVING:
If you realize that multitasking is impacting your life negatively, such as trying to text and drive at the same time, changes need to be made. Here are 3 adjustments that could help you:
Turn the phone’s volume to silent (and keep vibrate off) – If you are tempted to grab your phone when it’s ringing or you hear it vibrating, repress this urge by turning the volume and vibration off completely while driving. You can’t be tempted by what you don’t hear.
Put it in park. If it’s absolutely vital to respond to a message, find a place to safely pull over, then park and answer.
Using a hands-free device/earphones while driving:
A study found that drivers who use hands-free call conversation take longer to react to a car ahead of them than those who drive without earphones. This drive-and-talk relationship doesn’t work well for people.
Researchers experimented on people with earphones/earbuds and without them to ensure the claim. The result showed that the people listening to music or talking to someone via earphones were 4.2 seconds slower than those without earphones. While 4.2 seconds might seem like a small amount of time, it could your life when you’re about to crash into someone or to avoid them.
The thing about texting while driving is that many of us are aware of the dangers it poses, but we also won’t understand how dangerous it is if we find reasons to do it.
The good news is that you don’t have to worry about this in the coming years as self-driving vehicles are on the rise (we can’t say we didn’t see that coming).
But if you’re a driver of your 4 wheel machinery, remember the reasons why it’s a terrible idea to drive and text (or multitask). It’s important to know your priorities (attention) and place them in the right place (on the road).