We’ve all done it: dialed a quick phone number while at a stop light, answered an important call when driving down the interstate, shot a ‘b there in 5’ text to tell someone to tell them you’ll be late. Though we know deep down we probably shouldn’t be doing it, we still do. And it might just feel a little naughty at the time, but when nothing bad happens, we find ourselves doing it more and more. However, the number of texting-related accidents continues to increase as the technology improves and reaches more people. While talking on a cell phone and driving has been an issue for years, texting has really taken the danger to the next level. Studies have shown that drivers who are texting are twice as likely to get into an auto collision than those talking on a cell phone.
If you’re not convinced of the risk you are taking when you text and drive, consider this:
—The minimum amount of time your attention is taken away from the road when texting is five seconds. That’s enough time for something to run out in front of you, for a vehicle ahead of you to slam on the brakes or any other number of surprise occurrences that you will not be able to react to. And that’s only the minimum amount of time. Some texts can take 10 seconds or more.
—Text messaging makes a crash up to 24 times more likely than if you were paying attention to the road. Compare that to other distracted activities such as dialing a phone (2.8 times more likely to crash) or talking or listening on the phone (1.3 times more likely).
–According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver distraction (code for texting while driving) is the cause of 18 percent of all fatal crashes and 23% of all car accidents, the latter of which equals roughly 1.5 million crashes every year.
—Your kids are watching. Depending on their age, they may already own phones or even be driving on their own. If they watch you doing it, what kind of example are you setting? Especially when you consider the research that says 77% of young adults say they are somewhat to very confident of their ability to text and drive safely.
–Speaking of young adults, research shows that teens who are texting spend at least 10% of their time driving outside their own lane. So what can you do to decrease your chance of picking up the phone while you’re behind the wheel?
Here are some ideas:
—Put it away—far away. Putting your phone in your purse in the passenger seat isn’t enough. You can still grab for it and you’re probably putting yourself in a more dangerous situation as you might find yourself rummaging around in your purse to locate your phone. If you put your phone in the back seat, in the trunk or somewhere else completely out of reach, you won’t be tempted to text or to reach for your phone.
—Put an anti-texting app on your phone. They are becoming more and more widely available. Search your app store on your phone to see what is available.
—Give it to one of your kids. If you’re driving with older children, tell them they can hold onto the phone while you’re driving and not to give it to you. This is also a good example to set and you can tell them, “We’re making a deal that I won’t text and drive and that when you’re old enough to drive, you won’t either.”
Texts and calls can wait and are never important enough to put your life or the lives of those riding with you in danger. If you absolutely need to send a text when driving, pull over into a parking lot or to the side of the road. Set a good example for the next generation and keep yourself and your family safe!