You've seen the ads, you know the law, but still, every day, people insist on texting while driving, texting while they're stopped at lights or grabbing a quick look at their phones as they're pulling into parking lots. Why do we think it's ok and what is it going to take to make it stop?
Forget What You Think You Can do
Statistics report that in 2011 23 per cent of auto collisions involved cell phone use. They also say, despite what you think or how quickly you think you're looking, five seconds is the minimum time your attention is drawn from the road every time you send â€˜a quick note.'
Translate that 5 seconds into an average speed of 55 mph and you've just driven the length of a football field. Take that speed up a few mph, because let's be honest, it likely is, and you've not only ploughed across the football field but into the parking lot where the tail gate party is happening.
The fact is that texting makes a crash more likely.
You know the excuses: I was just checking for a second. I just wanted to make sure it wasn't so and so calling. Doesn't matter who it might be and it doesn't matter how urgent their note might be, it can wait until you're at your destination. If you're that anxious pull over. If they were trying to reach you for an emergency reason, they'd call and you could at least use your hands-free device; they wouldn't send a text.
The Mult-tasking Myth
I'm good at multi-tasking, it's ok for me to text. No it isn't and no, you aren't.
It's been said in more than one place and by more than one person, you can't do more than one thing at a time. You may feel like you are and sure maybe you can chew gum and walk and talk but that isn't the same as texting and driving. Maybe you can watch tv and eat but that isn't multi-tasking behind the wheel either.
Texting and driving both require brainpower and our brains simply can't accomplish multiple tasks at once, especially when those tasks involve it processing different streams of information - stop sign and LOL for instance.
Texting Causes Accidents
Some statistics say texting makes a crash 23 times more likely. If there was any way to collect data on near misses, on heart-stopping, stomach-dropping moments when someone almost didn't react in time, you can bet the stats would be much higher.
That alone means at some point in your life you may find yourself in need of an auto accident lawyer, whether you're in St. Louis or Salt Lake City, there's a high incident you may someday be involved in an accident involving someone on a cell phone and need legal assistance.
Other statistics say driving a vehicle while driving is six times more dangerous than driving drunk.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports â€˜texting while driving has replaced drinking and driving as the leading cause of accidents and deaths among teenage drivers.'
Do as I Say, Not as I Do
As parents, we have to understand how that translates in the teenage mind. My parent is old, I can do more with a phone than they can, if they can dial while driving, surely I can.
They watch our model of urgent connectivity - needing at all times to be connected to work, to friends, to the family and it becomes their model for living. It doesn't matter what you tell them with words, what you tell them through your actions, through your behavior, carries the weight of a thousand speeches.
Make it Easy for Yourself
It's tempting, of course it is. You're driving along and that cell phone pings from the seat or cup-holder beside you and it's hard not to look to see what's happening, hard not to wonder who it is or what's going on. If that sounds familiar, help yourself avoid temptation by putting the phone somewhere out of sight.
If you do ever find yourself pulled over by police and they see that phone sitting there, all nice and accessible, they'll tell you where you should be keeping that phone - your glove box, our purse, inside a coat pocketâ€¦anywhere but right there where you can see it's flashing red light, hear its ping that means someone is trying to connect with you.
If not for yourself, help your kids. When you get behind the wheel put that phone out of sight, out of reach and out of mind, at least for whatever time it takes you to get where you're going. Don't let yourself, or them become part of the problem. Don't let them become, or make someone else a victim.
Cathy Wilson is a writer for Lera Blog and she is constantly connected to email through her phone and admits to being a phone-junkie. The first, ok maybe the third time, her eight-year old daughter commented on mom looking at her cell phone while stopped at a light, she got the hint.