Mobile phones have had a dramatic effect on the way we communicate, making it possible to reach people in places and situations that wouldn’t have been reachable before. Texting has become popular among nearly all age groups, but it is especially prevalent among teens.
Unfortunately, the convenience of texting has had some dangerous side effects. Checking or composing text messages can distract drivers, leading to a higher incidence of vehicle crashes. Phone usage while driving caused roughly 18% of all fatal crashes in 2012, and a study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed that texting while driving makes a crash 23 times more likely.
Since teens are more prone to texting than any other age group, the dangers posed by texting and driving are especially high. When combined with teens’ relative inexperience behind the wheel, this makes for a deadly combination as it leads to about 21% of fatal accidents involving teen drivers.
It is never wise to take your attention from the road when driving. Accidents can happen in a matter of seconds, allowing almost no time to react. If you are distracted while driving, this can be disastrous. Among the various activities that distract drivers, texting results in the most time with your eyes away from the road, with a minimum of 5 seconds. That is more than enough time for a car ahead to make a wrong turn or someone to run in front of the vehicle. This is especially critical at high speeds, since 5 seconds at 55 mph is the equivalent of a football field—plenty of space for something to go wrong.
In spite of the dangers, many people justify texting while driving. Over three quarters of young adult drivers feel confident in their ability to drive while texting. People may limit themselves to only reading their messages while driving, claiming that it is less distracting than typing, or hold the phone in front of the windshield to keep their eyes more or less in the same place.
However, whether it involves simply checking your messages or responding to them while on the road, texting while driving will still take your attention away from the road, making it dangerous.
The best way to keep yourself safe from the effects of texting while driving is to not do it at all. Some other ways to keep yourself and your family safe include:
- Education: Make sure your family is informed about the dangers of texting while driving.
- Remove the temptation: When on the road, turn off your phone or put it on silent so you don’t hear it go off.
- Delegate to passengers: Have one of your passengers handle urgent text messages when you absolutely need to communicate.
In addition, it can be helpful to take extra precautions, such as installing auto safety technology from Safe Drive Systems on your vehicle. This can give drivers the needed heads up they need and prevent accidents caused by distracted driving. The RD-140 provides advance warning on traffic conditions and will even warn you when you start to drift in the lane. For more information on how SDS can protect you on the road, contact us.