Distracted Driving – Text Messaging

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,465
    Justin McNaull, AAA Public Affairs, discusses the dangers of text messaging while driving.

    How to Avoid Distracted DrivingText MessagingJustin McNaull: Hello! I'm Justin McNaull with AAA Public Affairs. We've been talking about how to avoid distracted driving. Now I'm going to cover one of the most notorious forms of driver distraction in society today, the ever growing instance of driver's text messaging and emailing behind the wheel.

    Text messaging now challenges phone calls as the most used form of wireless communication. The number of text messages sent in the U.

    S. in a single month has increased exponentially and is projected to continue growing aggressively as more and more of us use these features.

    As popular and convenient text messaging is, more-and-more drivers have also engaged in the practice while driving, one in seven drivers according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. In addition to the cognitive distraction involved, using a handheld communications device for text messaging, emailing, or surfing the Internet requires a driver to take his or her hands off the wheel, and eyes off the road. This is never a safe activity, and should not be attempted while driving.

    Many drivers obviously think that they can handle this complex multitasking all with safely operating vehicle. But if you think about it for a moment, does it make sense to drive with both hands off the steering wheel and without looking at the road? Of course, not.

    The fact that texting and driving don't mix is supported by a wealth of scientific evidence. It may even increase crash risk by as much as 23 times. Younger drivers in particular seem to be more susceptible to the temptation of text and the danger it causes. A simulator-based study indicated that younger drivers take their eyes off the road up to 400% more often, while sending and receiving text messages.

    If you're not looking at the road, you're not paying attention to your driving. If you're a parent, it's crucial that you educate your teen driver on the danger of texting while driving. AAA recommends that you set clear rules against this behavior. They're tied with the teens driving privileges.

    So how does one avoid texting while driving? The simplest recommendation we can give to avoid this kind of distraction is to make the commitment not to do it. Commit to not writing, sending, or reading text messages while driving. A number of organizations including AAA have programs where you can officially make this pledge.

    Another good strategy as with cell phone use in general is to just turn your phone off. When you power up your car; power down your device. This way you won't be tempted to read or send any messages. When you're arriving at your destination, then you can turn your phone back on and text as much as you like.

    If you can't turn off your phone, ignore incoming messages while you're driving, or if you have a passenger with you, recruit him to manage your text messaging for you. If you feel that you must check or respond to a text message immediately, pull off the road and safely stop the car first. As we've said, be safe behind the wheel, be social off the road. To see the actual risks of texting while driving, we invited some regular people to drive and text at the same time on a closed course. In the next video, we'll show you how they do, and what they have to say about the experience.