Well, those “quick glances” at your phone are not as quick as you think. Studies show that when you “glance” at your phone to read a message, your eyes are taken off the road for not 1 second, but 4-5 continuous seconds. A car traveling at a speed of 55 miles per hour covers the entire length of a football field in that time. That’s 100 yards in which a child, dog, or deer could run out into the street, another car could stop short, or you could drift into oncoming traffic or a tree or telephone pole.
It’s not only texting that’s so dangerous; it’s interacting with our phones in any capacity. If you’re dialing someone’s number, you’re immediately 2.8 times more likely to be involved in a crash. If you’re talking or listening to a phone conversation, you’re 1.3 times more likely to crash, even with your eyes still on the road.
Just searching for your phone in the car while you’re driving makes you 1.4 times more likely to crash. Bottom line…Driving requires our full attention.
Most anti-texting-while-driving campaigns are targeted toward teenagers, and for good reason. Teens are the least experienced drivers on the road, and they’re more attached to their phones as any other demographic. It’s important to express the dangers of texting and driving early and often and to remind them that social media can wait. Is responding to a Tweet, or answering a text message worth risking a life? If they dropped their phone off a cliff while answering a text, would they dive off the cliff to retrieve their phone and finish sending the message? Obviously not.
So what strategies can parents employ to mitigate phone use? Experts suggest that before your child even gets their learner’s permit, they sign a driving contract. This makes your child’s driving privileges contingent on a signed agreement that includes mandating their phone stay in the glove box from the time they get into the car until they park and get out.
It is important to lead by example. Experience drivers have become attached to their phones and are guilty of many of the same behaviors as their children. Recent ad campaigns have targeted adults making phone calls or sharing photos of their kids on Facebook while driving. Responding to an urgent work email or checking credit card statements while driving, makes an adult just as vulnerable to having an accident as teenagers.
Regardless of the reasoning, using your smartphone while driving is not worth risking one’s life. Adults may be more experienced drivers, but when you text and drive you’re essentially driving with a blindfold over your face for seconds at a time and risking not only your own life, but the lives of others on and off the road.
This is easily a one-sided argument. Put your phone away before getting behind the wheel. Phoning, texting, emailing, and posting can wait.