While texting and driving is a relatively new phenomenon, many of us already know how dangerous it can be. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the average driver will take his or her eyes off the road for about five seconds while reading or answering a text message. At 55 miles per hour, that’s enough to drive the length of a football field. A lot can happen in that span of time, which is why, in America, nearly 450,000 people are injured or killed each year as a result of distracted-driving accidents. Inexperienced drivers under age 20 are the most at-risk, with over 16 percent of fatal crashes among this group being caused by distracted driving.
At Alta Mere, we know the danger all too well— that’s why we offer a complete line of automotive safety products that can help keep the driver’s focus on the road. But if most of us know the dangers, why do so many people still do it?
Reason 1: We think we’re great at multitasking
Many people suffer from the illusion that they will not be as affected by the distraction of a text message. In studies of people’s multitasking abilities, subjects who were doing several things at once thought they were performing well, but they were actually doing everything much worse. This is because every time you switch tasks, your brain spends a lot of energy trying to pick things back up and regain focus. In driving, this can translate to a slowed reaction time and a lack of awareness that can make avoiding obstacles more difficult.
A text-blocking device from your local Alta Mere can remove this temptation completely by silencing your phone’s notifications until you’ve reached your destination and your vehicle is off. Texting and driving is dangerous for everyone on the road.
Reason 2: We get bored when we drive
Even when you’re familiar with where you’re going, the task of driving can become monotonous. Sitting almost completely still and maneuvering your vehicle around city streets doesn’t typically offer as much stimulation as your phone can, so people tend to get bored very easily. However, that boredom can be a recipe for distracted driving. Even something as simple as changing the radio station can take your eyes off the road long enough for an accident to happen.
Reason 3: Phones demand our attention more easily than other things
Your phone and the applications on it are designed to hold your attention. App makers test people’s responses to their apps to make them as addictive as possible, because the more time you spend on them, the more profitable they are. The longer an app can hold your attention, the better for the app maker, and so your phone is basically a bundle of varying types of distractions. Things like push notifications exist only to grab your attention, and the reward your brain gets when you view your phone can give you a rush of dopamine that keeps you coming back.
Reason 4: We feel the need to be constantly plugged-in
Many of us have very demanding jobs and other responsibilities that seem to require a near-immediate response. When texting and emailing can be so quick and easy, people are more likely to crave a quick response from you. There are ways around this, for texting at least. For example, Alta Mere sells text-blocking devices that will send an automatic response to inform the message sender that you are driving. If the issue is urgent, they could call you, and this is where a hands-free phone call device will come in handy.
We’ve all heard the statistics about how often people get hurt, or even killed, in accidents caused by distracted driving. But people tend to think that any negative outcomes to their behavior could never happen to them. Psychologists have found there are several tricks the brain plays on us to make us underestimate the possibility of something bad happening to us. These can include the confirmation bias, rationalization and stereotyping. These faulty thought patterns allow us to distance ourselves from people who suffer negative consequences, which convinces us that we’re too good for it to happen to us.
Despite the many incidents of traffic mishaps involving distracted driving, more than 660,000 Americans are texting and driving at any given moment. The next time you’re tempted to check your phone while you’re driving, we hope you’ll remember how unsafe it is to take your eyes off the road. If the temptation is just too much for you, check out the text-blocking products your local Alta Mere has to offer!