Texting while driving has become an epidemic and a leading cause of serious motor vehicle collisions. Despite widespread acknowledgment of the fact that texting while driving is dangerous, quite a few people still choose to use their mobile devices to send text messages, read or compose emails, or post to social media while driving.
People may believe that they are able to text and drive safely even though other people cannot, or they might simply think it possible to read or send the messages quickly enough to avoid endangering themselves or others in the process. What drivers often fail to consider is how long their digital distraction related to texting can continue to impact their driving ability.
You travel farther than you think while texting
One of the reasons people think they can safely text and drive is that they might assume they can do so quickly and efficiently. However, it will likely take you a few seconds to make sense of the message you received and mentally compose the new message. That could mean staring down at your lap or making multiple, short glances at your phone. Both tactics are dangerous.
Even if you use talk-to-text software, you will likely look down at your phone for multiple seconds. The unfortunate truth is that you will travel a significant distance while you look down at the phone in your hands or in your lap, no matter how fast you think you are.
If you are going 55 miles an hour while texting, you will travel the length of a football field in the five seconds it takes you to compose a text. Even after you send the text, while your eyes may refocus on the road in front of you, your mind may remain distracted for some time.
Internal distraction is dangerous and lasts a long time
Internal distraction, which includes thinking about or mentally focusing on tasks other than driving, is very dangerous. While it may not be as easy to prove as the act of typing a text, internal distraction is easily as dangerous as the manual distraction involved in taking your hands off the wheel.
The amount of your mental energy put into the topic that you communicate about will absolutely influence how long it takes your full attention to return to the task at hand. Researchers have found that it can take drivers longer than they think to refocus on the road after distractions.
The amount of time it takes your brain to refocus can still put you in danger. Drivers can take up to 27 seconds to really pay attention again, and that’s if you’re using voice commands, not manually typing a message. It’s safest to pull over to text and to give a wide berth to drivers texting at the wheel if you spot them from your vehicle.