Texting and Driving: Why Your Phone Can Wait - Capstone Brokerage

By: Kathleen Murray, Capstone Brokerage Claim Advocate, August 28, 2018

Driving is a privilege! Unfortunately, this privilege is abused by cell phones. Not only are we making phone calls, taking phone calls, and using our phones as our mapping guides, but we’re actively holding conversations via text when our eyes, hands, and minds should be focused on the road.

Driving and Texting is a Conflict Skill

Some of us forget that when we’re driving, it should be the only task at hand. No one is capable of multitasking when it comes to driving. The human brain cannot functionally do two things at the same time. When driving and talking on the phone, for example, the brain switches between the two tasks, slowing reaction times for both. Additionally, just talking on the phone handsfree, can cause a distracted driver to miss up to 50% of their driving environment. Do you really want to be in that 50% of a distracted driver’s environment? Hands-free devices offer no safety benefit when driving and do not eliminate cognitive distraction. Distractions such as phone calls, texting, and map guidance now join alcohol and speeding as the leading factors in fatal and serious injury crashes.

The Truth Behind Texting

While texting is clearly not the only culprit of distracted driving, it is the most dangerous because it is a triple threat. It causes visual, manual, and cognitive distraction to the driver behind the wheel.

• Visual: Your eyes are focused on your phone or focused on any sign of a notification from your phone. If you’re looking at your phone, you won’t see the car stop short in front of you.

• Manual: Using your phone automatically means at least one, if not both of your hands, are off the wheel. If your hands are holding your phone and not the wheel, you won’t be able to swerve to miss the pedestrian crossing the street at the next intersection.

• Cognitive: Your focus is on your phone and the messages you are receiving instead of what is going on around you. If your mind is not focused on operating your vehicle, it takes less than 5 seconds for you to cause an accident that could change your life.

Just One More Can Hurt
As crash numbers continue to rise, and drivers admitting to using their phone on 88% of the trips they take, we are still ignoring the warnings because we’re just not that convinced it’s dangerous to text while we drive. As we evaluate risks, we do not see the risk in texting and driving because we send one, and then two, and then three, and before we know it we’ve had whole conversations without any serious consequences. However, the notion that just because it hasn’t happened to us yet, is the typical and dangerous mindset. Our brains do not work the way we think they do and it’s very possible for us to make a mistake when totally focused on the road, let alone when you put a phone in our hand.

Are the Solutions Effective in Prevention?

Now that it has become so evident to us that texting and driving is not a good idea, some people think they have found their way around this particular distraction. Several different “solutions” have become popular amongst drivers who can’t seem to put their phones down when behind the wheel. Voice recognition software helps drivers translate the spoken word into a text, but drivers still need to be able to press send. Auto response technology has also become increasingly popular, allowing drivers to automatically send messages explaining that they are driving and cannot text back. And, perhaps the smartest technology to date, text blockers that prevent texts from being delivered while a vehicle is in operation.

Be the Example- Save Your Life and the Lives of Others

How many times a day do you see someone abuse the privilege of driving a car? Whether it’s running a red light, cutting someone off, or using their phone while they drive. Today, it’s almost impossible to drive anywhere without seeing someone use their phone while they’re behind the wheel. The danger texting and driving poses is now comparable to driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. If you would not drive with elevated alcohol levels, why would you text and drive? This is especially true for parents with young drivers. If you would never want your child to text and drive, why would you? Set an example for your friends and family and put your phone down while you drive. You might just save their life.

What is the Solution?

The only real solution to end the problems caused by texting and driving is to put the phone down! Whether it’s a drive around the corner or to and from work every day, your phone can wait. Emergencies arise and when that happens, pull over to a safe area and make calls and texts accordingly. Next time you get behind the wheel, your first and only priority should be driving.

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