When they first get behind the wheel, new drivers are warned not to take their eyes off the road, not even for a second. But as they grow more comfortable and confident, some drivers let their eyes stray. More and more these days, the object that diverts their attention on the road is a cell phone, and the consequences could be deadly.
Classified as a type of distracted driving, texting while driving is considered a serious traffic violation in most U.S. states. There’s a good reason for this. In fact, there are 1.6 million of them. That’s the number of accidents caused by cell phones each year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. And it could be argued, convincingly, that texting while driving is the most dangerous phone-related activity a driver can engage in. Here’s why.
Distracted Driving 101
Traffic safety experts have classified the three main types of driving distractions as manual, visual, and cognitive distractions. Manual distractions make you take your hands off the wheel, visual ones make you take your eyes off the road, and cognitive distractions make you take your mind off of driving. Whether eating, talking to passengers, or browsing a music playlist, most activities only involve one type of distraction. Texting while driving, on the other hand, hits the traffic violation trifecta. It is one of the only things you can do behind the wheel that requires your undivided attention.
It is not surprising, then, that the irresponsible, and illegal, activity significantly increases your risk of a car crash. Some studies have even found that it is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. Another thing the two activities have in common is that both require a criminal defense for drivers charged with these offenses. Whether the distracted or drunk driver caused an auto accident or not, the fines can cost several hundred, even thousands of dollars, in most states.
How to Stop
Although texting is not chemically addictive like alcohol, modern drivers have a penchant for texting while driving. Even though they know it’s dangerous and illegal, many of them still send and receive texts while on the road. For those who are having a hard time quitting this dangerous habit, there are two shockingly simple things you can do. First, turn your cell phone off! You can also lock it in the glove compartment if you think you might need it to get directions or to make a call. Locking it up will force you to pull to the side of the road and use it there, rather than committing a traffic violation. Second, you can download an app that will reply to all incoming texts and calls, letting them know you are currently on the road.
Don’t put yourself or your passengers in danger! Avoid the need for a criminal defense attorney by managing your distractions before you drive.