Distracted Driving – It’s Not Me, It’s Everyone Else

Most have texted and driven. Similar to the feeling Pavlov’s dog experienced when hearing that bell, when one hears the “ding” signaling a new text, dopamine compels one to pick up the phone and check the text. Is this excusable, or at least explainable?

It turns out that such behavior may not simply demonstrate carelessness. There is science behind such choices. It’s believed that a small chemical change caused by the sound of the text being received impairs our judgment, almost like a drug, and overrides the known dangers associated with texting while driving. Moreover, many have “self-deceiving” brains, and are overly confident in their ability to multitask.

In a study conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety last year, 70% of individuals believed that distracted driving was more of a danger today than three years ago. The study indicated that the vast majority of people polled believe that distracted driving behaviors, such as talking on cellphones, text messaging or emailing while driving, constitute “very serious threats.” Despite this widely accepted belief, 44.9% of drivers admitted to reading a text message while driving in the 30 days prior to the survey. In addition, 34.6% admitted to typing an email or text while driving. Therefore, drivers are aware of how dangerous this type of distracted driving behavior can be, yet find it difficult to stop.

How can we stop this disturbing habit?

Here are some strategies which may be used to curb phone usage while driving:

  • If you must send or respond to a text message or email, safely pull over and park the car first.
  • If there are passengers in the car with you, ask them to text for you.
  • Place your phone in the trunk, where it can’t be accessed while driving.
  • Put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode.
  • Install an app to help prevent this behavior. There are many apps designed to block texts and emails. Some apps send an auto-reply to the sender, indicating that you are driving, and will respond later.
  • Install a device such as the Distracted Driving Device, which prevents texting. The device pairs with your phone. The car won’t start unless the phone is on the dock. If the phone is removed from the dock, a notification is sent to the device administrator. This particular device allows you to make calls, listen to music, and use the navigation via Bluetooth while safely docked.
  • Make a commitment to stop texting and driving. Sign a contract with yourself to not text and drive, thereby making it “official”. That way, you are taking ownership of your responsibility to drive safely.

Scott Bonebrake is a general practitioner in Media, PA, and has been a licensed attorney for over 24 years. If you or someone you know is involved in a car accident, or has other legal questions, feel free to contact Scott at 610-892-7700, or email Scott at sbonebrake@noelandbonebrake.com.