Everyone knows that texting while driving is dangerous and at the same time practically everyone is guilty of doing so at one time or another. Since cellphones became mainstream, there have been countless news stories of horrific accidents caused by drivers who choose to get distracted by their phones and suffer the consequences as a result. Car accidents may occur for various reasons, but texting while driving is easily preventable.
The voice in your head that wants you to check or respond to a text message while driving can feel like it’s only getting louder and louder the more you ignore it. However, getting caught up in the texting and driving trap inhibits your response time to real situations happening outside your vehicle (e.g. pedestrians crossing in front of your vehicle, bicyclists, green lights, red lights, making your exit, braking for congested traffic, etc.)
Here are the three major ways texting and driving distracts people:
- Visually – Physically removing your visual attention from the road to your phone. Even glancing back and forth is distracting since you are rapidly adjusting to close and far distances. Your visual attention is needed at all times to the road ahead of you since anything could change from one moment to the next.
- Physically – Holding your phone requires taking a hand off the wheel and therefore reducing your overall control of the vehicle. This may also include dropping your phone and trying to pick it up while driving, and having to use the function buttons to send a text or check a message.
- Mentally – Text messages require your concentration of understanding a message and responding in a certain way. This can be dangerous when you take your mental concentration off your driving and the road ahead of you and place it on your text conversation. What’s worse is when you are engaged in a high-emotion driven text. It could be an argument with your parent, romantic partner or anything else that elicits your emotion and attention elsewhere.
Getting wrapped up in a text conversation while driving puts everyone on the road at risk. Practice healthy boundaries with your friends and loved ones by letting them know you will not text and drive. Turn your phone on silent to avoid hearing the notifications sound and wanting to respond to it. Play music and focus on the road ahead of you, safety is always worth it.