Is Texting And Driving Getting Worse?

Posted: Nov 14 2019, 8:11am CST | by , Updated: Nov 14 2019, 8:16am CST


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Is Texting and Driving Getting Worse?
Image: Pixabay

Despite the media's fixation with cars driving themselves, humans are pretty good navigators. When we're paying attention, that is.

Companies design technology to keep our attention, and it's working a little too well. Many people don't put their phones down long enough to drive safely from Point A to Point B. Each peek at the screen increases the risk of an accident.

We're all aware of the dangers of texting and driving. Yet the problem is getting worse, not better.

A Generation of Smart Vehicles

Manufacturers tried to resolve the distraction issue by integrating smart features into vehicles. The goal was to limit the use of handheld devices and keep eyes on the road. However, this technology doesn't remove distraction. People are still at risk, even when using in-car features.

According to one study from AAA, infotainment systems cause more crashes, not fewer. The study looked at 120 drivers using 30 new vehicles. The results? Unintuitive systems are to blame. In one trial, drivers spent up to 40 seconds using the navigation system — a long time to have your eyes off the road. Plus, some of the worst offenders are luxury brands.

Is it Really Getting Worse?

Many people think the texting and driving issue is getting worse. If you're one of them, you're right. Each day in America, at least nine people die, and 100 more get injured due to distracted driving. In 2017, the total number of fatalities linked to driving and texting reached 40,000 — a 6% increase over 2015.

Why is the problem getting worse? Perhaps it's our increasing reliance on technology. As younger drivers hit the road, they're bringing devices with them. Plus, they're used to watching movies on long car rides already becasue of portable DVD players. Cell phones, in-dash touchscreens, voice command and other features all pose a threat to our safety.

An accident can happen in a split second. Yet these devices command attention for longer. For example, it takes an average of five seconds to type out a text. If you're going 55 miles per hour, you'll cross the length of a football field by the time you hit send.

Texting and Driving — How to Break the Addiction

Technology grabbed our attention, and it's not letting go. Think about the last time you were in the car. Did you send a text? Maybe you set the GPS, choose a song or turned down the screen brightness.

For some, texting is an addiction. When we use our smartphones, it triggers the production of dopamine, a chemical that makes you feel happy. Dopamine is also essential in processes like thinking, sleeping, mood and motivation.

Like any addiction, it's easy to get stuck in a loop. We continue to seek out things that make us feel good — in this case, our phones. Yet this cycle becomes a problem when it interferes with daily life, including driving.

No matter the reason, distracted driving is dangerous. When you take your eyes off the road, your risk of an accident increases exponentially. Next time you buckle up, put the phone down. Stow in the middle console or a bag, if you must. It might seem like a small move, but it'll make you and your fellow drivers safer.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/56" rel="author">Scott Huntington</a>
Scott Huntington is a writer and journalist from Harrisburg PA who covered movies, tech, cars, and more. Check out his blog Off The Throttle or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.




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