Have you ever tried to carry on a conversation with someone while you are checking your text messages or social media? You may have asked the other person several times to repeat what they said. Perhaps the other person just gave up because it was too frustrating to try to get your attention. This is because the effect of interacting with technology produces a kind of momentary hangover that makes it difficult to refocus once you look up from your device.
According to a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people’s minds may take as long as 27 seconds to regain their attention when they look away from a screen. That means for 27 seconds, they may not truly see or comprehend something that is right in front of them. Imagine this happening to someone who is operating a motor vehicle.
No safe time to text while driving
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that over 3,000 travelers died in distracted driving accident in a single year, a 10% increase over the previous year. Nearly 400 of those victims were in Texas. It is likely that many drivers responsible for distracted driving accidents think they can check their phones or send a text while waiting at a traffic light. What they do not realize is that they may still be under the digital hangover effect as they proceed into the intersection.
Others, however, insist on using their devices as their vehicles are in motion. In fact, according to AAA’s survey, the following terrifying statistics are true:
- Over half of drivers say they send emails or texts while they are driving.
- More than a quarter of drivers surveyed believe it is acceptable to use their mobile devices behind the wheel if they are at a traffic light or not moving.
- About 39 percent of drivers agree that it is dangerous to send messages on their devices while driving, but they see no harm in reading an incoming message.
- Driving with no one else in the vehicle seems to increase the likelihood that a driver will send a text, email or phone call.
While you may strive to remain alert and even do your part as a passenger to keep drivers from distractions, you cannot predict when a distracted driver will cross your path. Despite increased public awareness campaigns, tougher laws and harsher penalties, drivers continue to take risks by using their cellphones while driving. This places you and your loved ones in harm’s way every time you travel.