Smartphones are an amazing invention. They connect us with faraway friends and family, answer questions at a moment’s notice, and help us access tons of educational and inspiring content. However, phones are also distracting. When a text comes through and your phone lights up, it’s hard to resist the urge to glance down immediately—and if you’re behind the wheel, that distraction can mean the difference between a quick trip to the supermarket and a life-altering accident.
As smartphones become an increasingly prevalent part of our world, young drivers may begin to wonder, “Why is texting and driving bad? I’m only taking my eyes off the road for 5 seconds; how dangerous can it be?” Unsurprisingly, it’s pretty dangerous. Did you know that over 3,000 people lost their lives due to distracted driving in 2020? That’s over 3,000 people too many.
Using a smartphone while driving is reckless and irresponsible, but many of us could benefit from a quick refresher on why that is. Before we talk about why you shouldn’t text and drive, though, let’s learn a little bit more about distracted driving.
What Are the Three Types of Distracted Driving?
So what happens when you text and drive? For starters, you get distracted from the road. According to the CDC, there are three types of distracted driving:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: taking your mind off driving
Experiencing even one of these forms of distraction while driving is enough to place you, your passengers, and others around you in danger. Now imagine being distracted visually, manually, and cognitively. Sounds pretty scary, right? Well, texting while driving invites all three forms of distraction into the car, making it extremely dangerous.
How Dangerous Is Texting While Driving?
There’s a simple answer to this question—texting while driving is pretty darn dangerous.
Think about it like this: if you’re driving at 55mph and take your eyes off the road to read a text for even five seconds, you just drove the length of an entire football field without paying attention. With that in mind, it’s no surprise when the FCC states that “more than 1,000 people are injured daily in incidents reported as distraction-related crashes in the United States.”
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Text and Drive
Let’s take a quick look at five reasons why texting and driving is a poor decision for both you and others around you.
- Texting and driving is illegal. Texting and driving isn’t just dangerous—it’s illegal. In many states across the United States, using your phone for anything but GPS apps or hands-free voice talking is against the law. 24 states have banned hand-held phone conversations, while 48 states have made it illegal to text while you’re at the wheel. Click here to check the status in your state.
- You could hurt yourself. Looking away from the road while zooming down the street is a one-way ticket to the emergency room. Protect your physical health by waiting to look at that text until you can safely pull over.
- You could hurt other people. Texting and driving puts more lives in danger than just your own, whether it’s a fellow passenger in your car, or a bystander walking down the street.
- Texting and driving is more dangerous than intoxicated driving. It’s common sense that drinking and driving is extremely dangerous, but texting while driving is potentially more unsafe. Studies have found that drivers distracted by their mobile devices had slower reaction times than intoxicated drivers. Distracted drivers’ reaction times were slower than their normal reaction time by 35%, while drunk drivers displayed a 12% decrease.
- Texting and driving sets a bad example for younger passengers. If you’re a parent, you could be setting a bad example by texting and driving. Kids often learn by example. When they get to the legal driving age, they may think it’s okay to text and drive, rationalizing it by saying, “My parents do it all the time!”
Be the Change and Put Down the Phone
Texting and driving is an extremely dangerous practice. It puts people in danger, sets a bad example for future motorists, and may be illegal in your state. If you feel yourself getting preoccupied while driving, put a time limit on your apps so they can’t bother you. Smartphones from Troomi, for example, have an awesome app scheduling feature that can help you and your teens avoid distracted driving.
Don’t let yourself get distracted by the shiny blue light of your mobile device. The person on the other line can wait for you to finish your journey before you respond. If you receive an urgent message, safely pull over and stop the car before you take the time to answer. You, your passengers, and the cars around you, will all thank you.