Common sense tells us that it’s not safe to text while driving, but it turns out the science behind this dangerous practice is even more compelling.
According to research by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, texting while driving is the “most alarming” of all driving distractions. Whether you are sending or receiving a text, the distraction will take your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that amounts to driving the length of a football field without seeing where you are going.
What’s even worse about texting while driving? It is not only your eyes that leave the road.
Three dangerous behaviors in one act
Texting actually combines three types of distractions:
- Visual: As discussed above, sending and receiving a text draws your eyes to your phone and takes them off the road. Constant visual awareness is a key component of driving safety. When a hazard enters your path, you only have a split second to react.
- Manual: Texting also requires taking at least one hand off the wheel as you use it to operate your device. This means that hand is not available for making a quick and necessary turn or gear change.
- Cognitive: Driving is a demanding practice that requires full attention to avoid pedestrians, other vehicles and road hazards. Reading or typing out a text takes your mind off of these elements.
Next time you are tempted to take out your phone and text while driving, remember these facts. A text can always wait until you get home and are safely parked. No text message is worth hurting yourself or another person.
Even if you drive safely, you can’t be sure others are doing the same. Learning defensive driving techniques can help you stay safe from others who text while driving. If you have been injured by such a careless driver, remember you have important legal rights.