Why Texting + Driving = NO

***A number of blog posts will be repeated throughout the year. This post was originally published on March 30, 2017.***

Here’s a stat for you: Use your phone for anything while you’re driving, and you QUADRUPLE your likelihood of crashing.*

That means, if you do this, you’re four times more likely to receive serious injury (requiring hospitalization) than if you didn’t. Why?

Driving and cell phone conversations both require a great deal of thought. When doing them at the same time, your brain is unable to do either well. For example, it’s nearly impossible to read a book and have a phone conversation. So driving and using a phone often results in crashes due to delayed braking times and not seeing traffic signals.

Cell phone use is particularly dangerous because of how often and how long we use our phones when driving. Applying makeup, adjusting the stereo, or reaching for an object that’s fallen onto the floorboards are also dangerous actions when behind the wheel, but they’re typically executed in short bursts throughout a car ride. Cell phone use, on the other hand, is something that can fill up a whole trip, adding a sustained level of risk over a long period of travel.

Texting and driving is a serious problem, and one that almost all of us are guilty of. Too many of us subscribe to the “it won’t happen to me” mentality. Just remember that earlier statistic, though: While it may end up just being a fender bender, serious injury or death are probable risks as well.

Need some assistance keeping off your phone behind the wheel? You can download an app, like DriveMode for AT&T carriers, that prevents you from sending or receiving calls and texts when you’re driving. While it won’t prevent you from scrolling or checking social media, it’s a start.

*Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

2 thoughts on “Why Texting + Driving = NO”

  1. What’s the opinion about talking your phone with a hands free device? Is there still a lot of distraction when talking and driving. I thought at one time Illinois passed a law about it being required that all drivers had to use a hands free device when talking on their cell phones when driving. I notice even today there are still a lot of drivers talking with one hand holding their phone while the other hand steers. Is it not illegal to participate in that practice?

    1. Great question! Hands-free device use is legal in Illinois, but it still poses a significant distraction and isn’t recommended. In a normal conversation with someone physically in the car with you, much of the risk created by the distraction of a conversation is offset by a second set of eyes and ears watching the road, and conversation tends to get quieter while in an obviously stressful driving situation. When on a phone call, even with both eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, your mind is still distracted by the conversation you’re having without any of the benefits of another passenger, and you’re at a greater risk of having an accident. It’s illegal to manually use your mobile device for any use, other than to call in an emergency, when on the road.

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