Texting and Driving – A Modern Lethal Practice

By: Anthony Cervezes

While social media has been a fantastic way for the automotive industry to connect with it’s clients and enthusiasts, there is a more sinister side to the otherwise innocuous and fun time-waster: texting while driving.  Texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to get in an accident, not to mention that in the US it has been made illegal in 30 states.

What’s worse is that texting while driving is, according to several studies, worse than drunk driving.  Car and Driver ran an independent test to determine the reaction time of a drunk driver versus that of a texting driver.  The results were clear, showing that the texting driver reacted 10% slower than the drunk driver.  It was all done on a closed course, so don’t get any ideas.  However, the message is still clear: texting while driving is downright dangerous.

Texting and driving is definitely a problem, but it is mostly a problem with the younger crowd.  Teenagers are the obvious culprits; with only a few months to a year of driving experience under their collective belt, they tend to be more accident-prone, reckless, oblivious, or all three than a seasoned commuter.  Coupled with younger people’s affinity for technology means that they often split their attention between driving and telling their online friends that they’re driving.

The natural question is, “what can be done about this?”  There are advertisements all over the place reminding us not to text while driving, but that isn’t always enough.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a few helpful ideas though.  The first is keeping your phone out of sight.  Keeping it someplace where you won’t be constantly looking at it is a great way to keep you from playing with it.  For teens that means potentially leaving it at home, or keeping it in the back seat where it is difficult to reach.

The NHTSA also recommends turning the phone to silent, which will prevent you from worrying about whatever text or call you just received.  Or better still turn it off. Everyone can attest to the massive willpower it takes to avoid checking your phone after hearing it sound off.  A designated texter can also help—with somebody in the passenger seat to handle communications it is a lot easier to keep your eyes on the road.  There are also some apps that will help prevent you from using your phone’s texting feature while driving.  Think of it like putting your iPod on hold to prevent in-pocket button presses.  There are a ton of apps out there and a few are even free.

As far as teens are concerned, they will do what they will do, but with a little vigilance on the parent’s side in explaining how bad texting while driving actually is, the consequences of it, and the ways to avoid it, we can all drive on safer roads.

This hard hitting video covers the risks of texting and driving

Anthony Cervezes is an automotive blogger and social media strategist and a regular contributor several automotive  blogs.

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