I recently came upon this article about preventing car crashes (written by a personal injury expertise who sees this kind of thing all the time), and it got me thinking about how easy it is to just be a safe driver. A lot of it comes down to a little patience - to wait until you get to your destination to do something that otherwise there would be less risk for. But we always find ourselves making excuses. Here are the top 5 excuses you and I probably use on a regular basis for texting, tweeting, reading - smartphone activities etc., and why they are completely invalid.
1) “I had to send it now!”
If you really need to send a text “now,” you should have no problem finding a safe place to pull over. In 2013, there were 445 fatalities from cell phone-distraction driving, and if that doesn’t seem like a lot, add that onto the whopping 34,000 injuries from the same conditions. That’s a huge number of people hurt by this. Take a short minute or two to pull over, or wait until you reach your destination.
2) “Don’t worry! I’m good at it!”
I’ve heard this a lot, but both psychologically and scientifically, nobody is actually a properly focused driver while texting – 37% of your brain activity is now focused on texting when it should be on the primary task of driving.
3) “I can text without looking!”
The visual distraction is only one part of the equation – texting is a cognitive distraction as well. This means that your focus is not completely on driving – making your response time slower and lessening your awareness of your surroundings. Nor does it make a difference for how long it takes you to send said text, as a recent study by AAA found that mental distractions can last up to 27 seconds after a distraction has tangibly taken place! That is an extremely long time to not be focused while driving, and is, again, simply putting too much at risk.
4) “I was at a stoplight!”
A RightTurn.com blogger put it best when she wrote “When I see other drivers on their phone roll through a stop sign... [it makes me] glad [that I don’t use my cell phone while driving].” Yes, you may be stopped but you still need to be aware of what’s going on around you. Unaware driving has led to me going through a stop light as well. Even if you’re fully stopped, you could be not looking and somebody starts backing up due to an action by the cars in front of them (which I have seen happen first hand), you could get rear ended and crash could occur. Similarly, other people run lights, so stay attentive, no matter how boring it might seem or how important that next tweet feels.
5) “There was nobody around!”
I have literally been backed into by somebody at 3 am on a highway when nobody else was on the road. They just stopped for a second, weren’t paying attention, assumed nobody was around because of the time and they were (I guess) ignoring their mirrors. You never know when a person or other may jump out, or something unusual like this may happen. I live in Idaho, and deer can pop up pretty much anywhere. The last thing I want to do, not just for the deer but for my car, is hit one due to my negligence while texting. Don’t expect that unexpected things can’t happen - keep any eye out. It could save a life.
Robert Lanterman is a freelance writer and unprofessional musician from Boise, ID. Learn about his love for Jesus, pizza, and obscure punk bands at Twitter.