According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day, nine people die and more than 1,100 suffer injuries in collisions caused by distracted driving. Talking on the cell phone, eating, and using in-vehicle technologies (like GPS systems) all distract drivers from the road, but texting is the most dangerous.
Texting takes the driver’s attention away from the road for longer periods of time than other tasks, such as eating. It involves all three types of distractions: manual, visual, and cognitive.
Texting (and talking on the cell phone) is also illegal. Get caught and you could face a $20 base fine for the first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses.
Jean Quan knows about the hands-free law. The former mayor was allegedly caught texting while driving last summer. Not long after, she was involved in an auto accident and witnesses claimed she was “looking down,” possibly at a phone. Quan was not cited and later submitted phone records that allegedly proved she was not talking or texting at the time of the crash. But her missteps illustrate how often people use their mobile devices even when the law directs otherwise.
In a survey conducted by the California Office of Traffic Safety in 2010, 27 percent of respondents admitted to either “regularly” or “sometimes” talking on a hand-held cell phone. Almost 20 percent admitted to regularly or sometimes texting while driving. Almost 52 percent said they did not change their talking/texting habits because of the hands-free law.
To help control the urge to look at your phone while cruising down the highway, look into one of the many apps that can disable texting while at the wheel or enable voice features to keep your hands off the device.
Distracted driving can lead to serious injury and even death. Unless it’s a 911-level emergency, that call or text can wait until you put the car in park.