How Serious Is Texting and Driving?

Texting and driving while car approaches

Texting and driving has become the landmark issue for distracted driving campaigns. Rarely do advertisements and safety PSAs focus on eating while driving or daydreaming, but why is that? Is texting and driving really as serious as we’ve been lead to believe? To find out, we need to explore not only the scope of distracted driving but why cellphones are an especially terrifying distraction.

The Scope of the Problem

Distracted driving is a factor in roughly 1-in-4 U.S. car crashes and car crash fatalities. At the national level, that’s about the same as drunk driving. In other words, drunk driving and distracted driving account for almost 50% of all car crash fatalities.

But are cellphones really to blame? Some say no. Separate studies by private insurance companies and public law enforcement have found that active cellphone use (as in someone using their phone at the moment of impact) accounted for just 11% of distracted driving fatalities.

But that analysis only looks at part of the problem. Distracted driving is a constant threat, and cellphones are such as powerful distraction that they consume our mental focus even when we’re not using them.

A Powerful Distraction

It’s clear that cellphones are a powerful distraction, but why? It’s because cellphones are like a skinner box; each notification gives you pleasure, and so you seek out that gratification. This is a difficult distraction to ignore because even if you put your phone out of sight, the ping of a notification can cause you to daydream and wonder what you’re missing out on.

Not only that but as an all-in-one communicator, there’s a tendency to use your phone for any little thought you have. You might tell your phone’s assistance to play a particular song or send a text message by voice dictation. Not only are all of these distractions, but merely knowing that you have the ability to do these things is also a distraction because you’re taking mental focus away from the road and putting it on your phone.

There is no safe way to use a cellphone while driving. It is the ultimate triple-threat distraction because it never goes away. Even if you have your phone out of sight, it is still acting as a cognitive distraction.

More Severe Injuries?

Not only are distracted driving-related crashes common, but they tend to cause more severe injuries. The reason is two-fold. First, driving distractions encourage speeding. If you aren’t paying attention, the tendency is to gradually increase your speed. But speeding results in more severe crashes because more speed means a greater force of impact.

That speeding tends to carry through the crash. When an aware speeding driver realizes a crash is imminent, they tend to slam the brakes and reduce the force of impact as much as possible. Distracted drivers may not realize a crash is imminent at all and could hit another vehicle or a pedestrian not just at full speed but at an unsafe speed. More force in the crash translates to more serious injuries, which is why distracted driving crashes tend to be more fatal.

Getting Better

Reducing distracted driving requires constant focus. It’s something that we must all actively consider whenever we get behind the wheel. Not only do we need to reduce our exposure to phones and other distractions, but we need to be consciously aware of how each action pulls at our focus so we can identify when we are distracted and then quickly regain focus.

If you were injured by a distracted driver, let us fight for you. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Bryan car accident lawyer from The Payne Law Group, don’t hesitate to contact our firm at (979) 300-7406 or send us an email.

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