The tragic consequences and horrifying risks of phone distractions and texting while driving are constantly being shown in the news, on television, and on billboards. However, these risks are still somehow being ignored by drivers.
What are they thinking?
- “It’s only going to take a second, and a second won’t matter.”
- “I won’t get into an accident. Other drivers will protect me.”
- “No one is coming; I’ll be fine.”
That’s all well in good until...
- It takes more than a second. The average text takes five seconds or more to send.
- The other driver was also texting, assuming that you would protect him.
- There was someone coming, but you were too distracted by your phone’s beeping to notice
Instead of hoping that your phone’s distractions won’t cause you or a family member to get into a horrific accident, learn how to avoid the distraction in the first place. Not only will you reduce your risks of causing an accident, you can improve your chances of avoiding a crash caused by someone else.
Distractions Disrupt Focus
Although many people pride themselves in being able to do several things at once, the human brain isn’t designed to be able to put full focus on more than one thing. Sure, you can sometimes physically accomplish multiple things at once, but neither task will receive your full attention and they won’t be your best work.
It’s even worse when your mental concentration is critical. Imagine you’re talking on the phone and reading a book. After two minutes, can you recite what you just read as well as what your conversation was about, or are you going to have to reread that paragraph?
Multitasking is a lie. When your mind becomes distracted, it can’t focus on everything that is happening around you. In some cases this is fine: forgetting to put the mayonnaise on your sandwich because you were also watching the television isn’t going to kill you. But forgetting to stop at a stop sign because you’re texting may indeed be fatal to you or a pedestrian.
Driving requires your full attention and focus in order to recognize and respond to potential dangers. However, when you try to sneak in a text or respond to an email, that attention is diverted, causing you to lose focus and put you and your family at risk. This is why it is extremely important to not only understand these risks but also learn how to avoid the distraction before it gets to the point of causing harm.
Tools to Help Silence Technological Driving Distractions
The safest thing to do with your phone, tablet, or any other distracting electronic device is to keep it turned off while you’re driving. Unfortunately, in today’s society many people believe that their phones must be on at all times in case someone has to reach them. Although this may be practical when at work, home, or a party, that just doesn’t work while driving.
Fortunately, for those drivers who feel that they must be reachable at all times, there are safer methods of texting, talking, and communicating without the need to physically hold a phone or take their eyes from the road. Although these methods give the driver better control over their vehicles, talking can still be distracting. When using these methods, make sure that you keep it short and focus on the road ahead, rather than a response you give.
Alternative phone communication methods include:
- Automatic messaging responders. These particular apps respond with an automated message whenever you can't make it to the phone. You can turn the app on before you get behind the wheel, and if you receive any texts, it'll respond to the sender with whatever you program it to say—for instance, “I can't respond right now; I'm driving. I'll get back to you as soon as I get out of the car."
- Silence or vibrate mode. If you can’t ignore the sound of a text coming in, put your phone on silent, vibrate, or turn it off completely so you’re not tempted to respond.
- Cinema mode. Some cinema mode apps will not only automatically silence your phone but will also dim your screen, so you won’t know you received a message until you have stopped safely.
- Hands-free. Bluetooth can be set up in your car to allow you to make calls and talk without needing to use your hands.
- Voice-to-text apps. VTT apps allow you to speak a message and send it via text messaging without the need to type. For example, Siri can be used on most iPhones.
Communicating Safety to Stop Distracted Drivers
Knowing your options for decreasing your phone distractions is regrettably only half the battle. Although you are now equipped with the knowledge you need to protect your passengers from your own temptations, the unfortunate truth is that other distracted drivers can’t be trusted to drive safely.
Help us raise awareness about cell phone driving use and encourage your friends and family to put down their distractions. Share this page on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to show your support for stopping driver distractions. Together, we can help decrease texting and cell phone accidents, and make our roads a safer place to travel. Please, share now.
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