Ever since mobile phones have become commonplace, their use by people driving has been an increasingly significant safety concern. People die every day in crashes caused by distracted drivers, and many others get hurt.
Despite awareness campaigns and storylines in popular media that highlight the dangers of distracted driving, countless people still pick up their phones while at the wheel. Why is distracted driving still such a big concern even though people know it isn’t safe?
Phones are addictive
The idea of being in constant contact has become standard for most people. Employers and even significant others expect to be able to reach people instantly. The way we interact with phones creates a sort of addiction, and people feel helpless or disconnected without their screen of choice.
Many people immediately respond to the sound of their phone going off and may struggle to set aside the device for the duration of their commute. Trying to ignore the impulse to pick up the phone and check the messages is a risk on its own.
In fact, you don’t even need to have your phone in your hand for its presence to be a distraction. If you hear it going off, see the screen light up or feel it vibrate, you will mentally distract yourself by trying to guess what the message is. Even hands-free solutions still require mental focus on the messages rather than traffic conditions nearby.
The only way to avoid the distraction caused by your phone is to completely set it aside and silence it so that you don’t have any need to focus on it while driving
People consistently underestimate their own impairments
If most people ignore how addictive phones are, they also overestimate their own driving skill. They might think that it’s dangerous for other people to text and drive, but they are careful enough to do it safely. The mental process is much like the attitude people have about drunk driving.
The truth is that no one can safely take their hands off the wheel and their eyes off the road. Avoiding a crash requires your constant attention. Making sense of some of the bad behaviors that cause crashes can help you avoid contributing to your own risk out on the roads.