Anyone who has a smartphone knows the dreadful temptation that comes with the 'beep' of an email received on the road. You feel called, compelled, to pick up that phone and check it. 'I won't read it', you say to yourself, 'I just want to see who it's from.'
Some of us check it right then and there, traffic and inclement weather be damned. The more responsible among us wait for a stoplight, or at least a lull in the highway before we unlock our mobile. We feel guilty whenever we do it, but that doesn't stop us from doing it again the next time, and the time after that. The digital age requires more self control than most of us are willing or able to show. That is the terrible paradox of our age.
CarGurus released a study today that gives us an idea of just how widespread this sort of behavior is. 2,881 people were surveyed, and 52% of them stated that they used their cell phone to read and/or write email and send text messages within the last year. I'd be willing to bet money that the actual percentage of people who text or email while driving is much higher. On a yearly basis, it's probably close to 100%.
There is no denying the fact that using your cell phone while trying to drive can be extremely dangerous, some studies suggest it's even as bad as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. So why do we do it? And why hasn't the onset of mobile phones lead to a staggering jump in traffic fatalities?
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Probably due to the fact that most of us aren't stupid teenagers. I'm guilty of checking my email and sending the occasional text message, but I wait until a red light to do it. Most drivers are probably fairly similar, waiting for an empty stretch of highway or a temporary stop before getting on with their e-business. There are plenty of jerks on the road who whip out their mobile and try to text while merging lanes or barreling down a school zone, but I'd be surprised to hear they were more than a dangerous, infuriating minority.