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Young Woman Sending Messages while Driving

The Dangers of Texting and Driving

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Whether you just got your license or you’ve been driving for most of your life, texting and driving can create a dangerous situation for everyone. Since there are reports surfacing to suggest that sending a text from behind the wheel is just as dangerous as driving under the influence, it’s best to understand the risks associated with using your phone and what you can do to avoid them.

Why Texting Is a Problem

While people have been debating about whether it’s safe to talk on a cell phone while driving for years, there’s little debate about whether it’s a good idea to text and drive. Spoiler alert: It’s not. In fact, checking that text message could be deadly.

The average length of time a short text message pulls your eyes away from the road is just under five seconds. This is roughly the length of time it would take to drive from one end zone of a football field to the other. There can be a lot of cars, pedestrians and debris in an area the size of a football field.

Talk-to-Text Features Are Not the Answer

Some may argue that they can easily dictate their text messages to their phone without taking their eyes off the wheel, but that’s not the only issue. During that time, your brain is spending more energy to process the content of your message than it’s using to assess potential hazards around you. Ultimately, anything that pulls your attention away from the cars and pedestrians around you is a bad thing.

This split focus can especially be a concern when an inexperienced driver is behind the wheel. A seasoned driver may be able to avoid a collision more by reflex than conscious thought, but people with fewer hours operating a vehicle won’t have those reflexes yet. In fact, people texting while driving are 23 times more likely to have an accident than those motorists paying attention to the road.

Texting at Stoplights

Because of the increasing safety issue that texting poses to the driving public, states are beginning to make it illegal to text and drive. Even where there isn’t a statewide ban on texting, some cities and townships are passing local ordinances to keep people from texting behind the wheel. Depending on exactly where you’re driving, you could receive a ticket for trying to send a quick text while stopped at a red light.

Going Beyond Texting

Of course, it’s not just text messages that are increasing the risk of an accident. Since smartphones have the ability to process emails, social media and games in addition to phone calls and text messages, your phone could be the #1 source of distractions in your vehicle. If you’re like many Americans, it’s become a Pavlovian response to check your phone the instant it makes a sound. Since this can be a difficult habit for anyone to break, consider putting your phone on silent while you’re driving. All the text messages, social media activity and missed calls will still be there once you arrive at your destination.

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