We all know we should not text and drive, so why is it so tempting to reach for the phone the moment you hear that little ring? Just a quick glance can not hurt, can it? Wrong.
Data from a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 2020 shows that 1.6 million accidents, more than 3,100 deaths and 400,000 injuries were caused by some form of distraction while driving in 2019. In addition, more than one in four accidents – including 87 percent of rear-end collisions – the result of some form of distracted driving.
What feels like a quick check of your phone, turning the radio knob, or resetting the GPS can easily result in injury or tragedy.
Distracted driving facts to remember
After years of PSA about the dangers of being distracted while driving, it’s clear we know better than to do so – so why can we not stop? Everything comes from the biology of the brain.
Research has shown that 92 percent of drivers realize the dangers of texting and driving, and support making it illegal to text behind the wheel. Still, 60 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds think they can text and drive safely. The biological phenomenon of cognitive dissonance tricks our brains into thinking that we is not subject to the same risks and dangers as everyone else. Convinced that we are the exception rather than the rule, we continue with risky behaviors while realizing the dangers when others do it behind the wheel.
To recognize the error in this logic, it is important to understand what happens to our brain when we use a cell phone. According to a behavioral study recorded in the National Library of Medicine, when we talk on the phone, “our brains direct about 37 percent of our energy away from parts of the brain involved in driving, resulting in” inattention blindness. “In the most basic terms, that you may be looking around at your environment, but that you are not fully processing everything you see.
As a result of this practice, the Psychology of Learning and Motivation explains that “it is estimated that we can miss as much as 50 percent of what happens around us when we are distracted.” It is not difficult to see why this can quickly become a serious danger when we navigate around pedestrians, children, pets, construction zones and other drivers – many of whom are probably distracted themselves.
How to prevent being distracted while driving
1. Enroll your teen in an exercise program
Have you heard of teenSMART® Driver safety program? The program teaches drivers to anticipate dangerous situations, realize how the risks change when they drive, increase situational awareness and expect the unexpected when they are behind the wheel. Studies show that teens who complete the program reduce their chances of having a crash by up to 30 percent. As an added incentive, Central offers premium discounts to teen drivers who complete the program.
Read more: Teenage driver? teenSMART is the smart choice for security and savings
2. Talk to your employees
Groups dedicated to changing the nature of distracted driving have worked hard to develop training materials that can be used to bridge these types of conversations with employees. This video produced by the National Safety Council, for example, provides advice on how to coach your employees to properly and safely prepare to embark on the road of work-related travel.
Take a course for distracted drivers
The National Safety Council offers an interactive online course in defensive driving, designed to motivate drivers to change their risky driving behaviors, as well as their overall attitudes about distracted driving.
4. Evaluate your own behavior.
Learn more about driver distractions and the risks you take by allowing yourself to multitask on the road by taking the official DMV Distracted Driving Quiz.
5. Promise to make a change
Join the millions of Americans who promise to take back their focus on the roads in this official DMV-sponsored online pledge.
Driver’s distraction impact on insurance
The safety and well-being of our policyholders and communities is of the utmost importance for everyone at Central. Raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving not only provides safer roads, it also helps us keep premiums low for our car policyholders by reducing the number of accidents and damages. From saving lives to saving money, everyone benefits. Read more about Central Auto coverage here.
Want to learn more about distracted driving?