Texting and Driving. Let’s talk about it.
It’s so easy to text and drive. Pull up to a red light, get out my phone and start texting with two hands. Then the light turns green but I convince myself that I can still manage to finish my sentence with one hand typing while placing the other hand on the wheel. I use the T-9 function to auto correct as I write with my non-dominant thumb. Maybe I take a peek at what I wrote (to make sure it is correct…which it rarely is) and get honked at by another driver. Maybe I swerve a little into the next lane, so I stop and wait until the next red light and then do it over again. Perhaps I want to change a song on Pandora (because I hate it when Justin Bieber comes on my Rihanna playlist). Or I could just be looking at my phone for directions to my job interview. Whatever the reason, the truth is this: cell phones have become a part of us and our daily driving experience.
Most of us have looked at our phones while driving. It feels satisfying. We are never bored. We feel stimulated. We may even feel good about snap chatting ourselves in the car because we look especially cute from that angle. Since we are used to instant gratification and experiencing constant communication with the outside world, thanks to our smart phones and computers, we have trouble waiting until we reach our destination to reach out. It becomes hard to stop, even if we want to.
We easily justify it in so many ways by saying things like, “I’ll hold my phone by the windshield for better visibility or I’ll read this text instead of sending one because I think it’s safer.” I mean, why wouldn’t we text and drive? We haven’t crashed into anyone’s car, right? We haven’t gotten hurt yet, right? We are purely making our driving experience more enjoyable and less boring, right? WRONG.
In the U.S. alone, there were 1.3 million cell phone related car crashes in 2013. It only takes 5 seconds of not paying attention on the road for an accident to happen. This means that if you are driving 55 mph, it equals driving the length of 1 football field without looking at the road. Crazy, right? And, statistics showed that text messaging while driving makes a crash 23 times more likely.
So, here are some thoughts on breaking the habit.
You have every good reason to not text and drive. It is illegal in the state of Maryland and 39 other states in the U.S. including Washington D.C. This means that if anyone ever gets mad at you for not digitally responding in a timely fashion, you can simply say, “I didn’t want to get pulled over by a cop and get a ticket.” No questions asked.
Need some time alone? Driving is an excellent excuse to unplug and not feel obligated to talk to people. Use that time for you and before you know it, you will look forward to your drive home without feeling the pressure of communicating. Your ride home will actually help you focus on the one thing you need to focus on most: driving.
Take a minute to think about the people driving around you. They all want to get home too. They all have families just like you do. Is it worth the risk? You could be hurting more than just yourself if you crash.