Texting While Driving Distraction

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road-to-nowhere-1449440Texting while driving has been proven to be a very deadly combination. Trying to multi-task behind the wheel has always been considered very dangerous behavior, but when smartphones reached the mass market and texting hit the forefront of modern culture, the number of distracted driving-related accidents grew exponentially. What makes texting so much worse than the other forms of distracted driving? Take a look.

Some Background

There have always been distractions on the roads of Saint Petersburg. Drivers on the roads in St. Petersburg, and elsewhere in the country, are regularly distracted; texting while driving is one of the worst. They talk on the phone (even when the law states that they shouldn’t do so). They adjust radio stations and volume controls. They correct the navigation settings while en route to their intended destination, without pulling over to do so. They break up fights between children in the backseats. They eat, drink, apply makeup, and even attempt to read documents or newspapers.

That was the case long before the cell phone was invented, but since texting has been embraced by the general public, the number of distracted driving accidents has increased substantially. One study sought to explain the differences.

The Research

In order to learn more about texting while driving and to what degree it impacts driving, a group of researchers set up a virtual simulator driving course and chose a number of randomly selected participants. The researchers wanted to know how badly the drivers would perform on the track when texting and driving versus when they were focusing their full attention on the road ahead of them. While they found exactly what they expected to find – texting and driving caused them to veer, change lanes, and make numerous mistakes that weren’t made when full attention was on the act of driving, other characteristics were noted as well. It was surprising in this study to see how texting compared to other driving distractions.

The researchers involved in this study suggested that the brain does not handle this task in the same way that it handles other distractions.

While on the simulator set up for the purpose of the research, the drivers were distracted in a few different ways. Some tasks forced them to look away from the road momentarily. Other tasks required that they focus their brainpower on answering complicated questions. However, in most cases, there was very little veering from their intended lane on the road.

When asked to read and respond to text messages, though, the story changed. The drivers were far more likely to swerve out of their lanes, to over-correct, and to make other potentially deadly mistakes.

While texting did prove to be the biggest distraction, it is important to note that all forms of distraction are dangerous on the road. The researchers pointed out the fact that in all cases, whenever distractions were present, the drivers showed increased symptoms of stress. When the body is stressed like that, the person’s ability to reason through problems, to make split-second decisions is negatively impacted. That’s bad news for the driver, any passengers, and others that the person encounters on the road. It means an increased likelihood that mistakes are made. Mistakes cause accidents.

The Bottom Line

Distracted driving – whether it is texting, talking on the phone, checking social media, or simply partaking in a stressful conversation – is potentially fatal. Though some distractions cannot be avoided, many can. Turn your phone off. And, if you are harmed or suffer a loss because of a distracted driver, consult a personal injury attorney for assistance.