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The Dangers of Texting and Driving

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The National Safety Council is sponsoring a movement to bring awareness to the growing problem of cell phone use while driving.

Texting Kills More People on the Road Than Drinking

You’ve heard of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). This group is dedicated to showing people how dangerous driving under the influence is. Distracted drivers, specifically drivers who were texting at the time, account for more fatal car accidents in the United States than drunk drivers.

There aren’t many groups protesting driving and texting because many don’t see it in the same light. People don’t think that taking our eyes off the road for a few seconds to text someone back could be as bad as getting behind the wheel after drinking several cocktails. The fact is that it is just as bad, if not worse.

You may not be endangering anyone after sending a text or when you get off the phone – unlike the drunk driver who is threatening him/herself, and everyone else on the road, the whole time they’re driving. However, in those few seconds of texting or calling, you’re just as bad as any drunk driver.

According to a study reported by CNBC, the danger is quantifiable. Check out this list of how much longer it takes drivers to stop when they are impaired or distracted.

  • Legally intoxicated (blood alcohol level of 0.08) – additional 4 feet to stop
  • Reading an email or text – additional 36 feet to stop
  • Writing and sending a text – additional 70 feet to stop

That’s right. If a child walked out in front of a drunk driver’s car or a person who was texting’s car, the drunk driver would be 12 to 18 times more likely to stop in time than the individual who was texting or reading a text or email. Think about that the next time you think that a text, email, or call can’t wait for a response. If it’s that urgent, then you need to pull over to respond.

Talking on the Phone Is No Better

Years ago, people were warned not to talk on the phone while driving. All kinds of hands-free devices were invented and sold to help people talk on the phone in a safer manner while driving. Then came the advent of texting, and the problem grew monumentally worse. How many times have you had a friend call you back after you texted them and say, “Hey, I’m driving, so I couldn’t text you…”?

Once, people might have waited, called back, or answered the phone briefly and said, “I can’t talk right now. I’m driving. I’ll call you back.” Now, with the dangers of texting while driving becoming more and more apparent, people will talk on the phone instead, which is just as dangerous. Studies have even shown that using hands-free equipment doesn’t help your safety. Why? Let’s consider an example.

The Lovers’ Quarrel

You are driving, and your spouse calls you. The two of you have been having issues that you’ve been trying to work through. You care a lot about making this work, so you want to make sure that you answer the phone whenever they call and pay attention when talking with them.

When your spouse calls you, you’ve immediately taken your mind off of driving and put it into talking with your spouse, who isn’t there to see what’s going on around you. If something happens in front of you, and you need to swerve or brake, your reaction time will be significantly slowed because you won’t be paying attention to what’s going on in your immediate vicinity.

Your brain processes communication differently when you’re talking with someone on the phone versus when you’re talking with someone who is right next to you. Furthermore, the person sitting next to you can look around and discern when traffic is bad or when they should be quiet for a few minutes. If your spouse calls you from home, and you’re in rush hour traffic, they’ll have no idea that there’s a pileup ahead of you and that you need to pay attention. If emotions are heated, you’re even more likely to take your attention off of driving. Leave the fights, break-ups, and make-ups until you get off the road.

Why It Can Always Wait

We live in a world where we’re always connected. Even using the voice-to-text feature on your phone still involves taking your attention off of driving. Voice recognition software has become more advanced, but it still gets your message wrong sometimes. When was the last time you used your voice-to-text feature without checking to make sure it had converted everything correctly?

That means you’re still taking your eyes and attention off of the road to communicate with someone who may not even know that you’re driving and cannot be distracted. If you take your eyes off the road at the wrong time, you’re going to hit something or someone. No matter how important your text, call, or email is, it can wait. It can always wait–you won’t be able to respond again if you’re in the hospital, dead, or in jail for accidental vehicular manslaughter.

If you find it difficult to ignore your phone while driving, put it in “Do Not Disturb” or airplane mode. Either of these features will keep your phone from making noise and distracting you. If you’re going to be on the road for some time, and you need to stay in touch with your boss or spouse, tell them that you’ll make regular stops to check messages and call or text them back.

If you have any questions about safety and cell phones, call your local Cell Phone Repair store. We’re happy to give you all of the information you need.

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