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Texting and Driving: The Importance of Doing One at a Time

The chime of a text message hitting your inbox is difficult to resist. Unfortunately, reaching for your phone to read and respond to that text is more dangerous than many drivers assume and could be putting your life at risk. Here are the top four reasons why texting while behind the wheel can be the worst type of driving distraction.

1. Increased Response Times

Image via Flickr by mrJasonWeaver

A recent experiment, conducted by Car and Driver, set out to determine which braking response times are worse:  those of texting drivers or those of intoxicated drivers. Alarmingly, the experiment showed that drivers took far longer to hit the brakes while texting, with the youngest driver in the experiment traveling an extra 319 feet before hitting the brakes.
The experiment was conducted on a straight, closed road. Just imagine what could happen on a busy freeway.

2. Increased Risk of Causing an Accident

Think you can effectively multi-task while behind the wheel? Think again. A recent report by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute shows that texting drivers are 23 times more likely to cause a vehicle crash than drivers who keep their eyes on the road. Some of those accidents are minor fender benders, while others are the kind that take the lives of more drivers with each passing year.

3. Decline in New Driver Learning

For new drivers, the risk of accidents due to texting and driving is often higher and the outcomes more tragic than for experienced drivers. Yet, with their increased dependence on technology, young drivers are often the most likely to reach for their phones while driving. This dependence on technology decreases the time young drivers spend developing positive driving habits and, instead, sets the stage for negative lifelong driving habits.
In fact, according to the FCC, 40 percent of all American teens confess they have ridden with a driver who used a cellphone in a manner that put others in danger. Further, 11 percent of drivers ages 18 to 20, who survived an accident, admitted to texting at the time of the crash. Those injured due to the negligence of other drivers are turning more and more to firms like to work through their accident claims.

4. The Hands-Free Myth

In an effort to preserve their texting while driving habits, many drivers are turning to hands-free technology and claim this technology allows them to focus on driving. Yet, a new AAA study shows that using voice commands to send text messages while driving is actually more dangerous than simply talking on the phone.
According to the study’s researchers, the most distracting action of all is the use of hands-free devices that translate speech into text. Even if the driver’s eyes remain on the road, researchers explain that the concentration needed to use hands-free devices causes tunnel vision or inattention blindness. Unfortunately, with more technology and dashboard infotainment systems being added to new car models, accidents caused by hands-free technology are likely to continue increasing.
A text message simply isn’t worth a life or a lifelong impairment. Put the phone down while driving and, when you hear the familiar chime of a new text message, remember that it can wait.

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