Of the many types of dangerous distracted driving behaviors out there, texting while driving often gets a reputation for being one of the riskiest. But where does this reputation come from? And is it deserved?
Unfortunately, in the case of the latter question, many studies point to one answer: yes.
Minor to severe distractions
SafeWise discusses some of the many disadvantages and dangers that texting while driving creates. First of all, distractions behind the wheel will increase in severity and potentially risky (or lethal) outcomes based on how intense the distraction itself is. For example, fiddling with a car radio serves as a distraction, but it is a relatively minor one in the grand scheme of things. Many drivers will change their music station without ever risking crashing into another vehicle.
A triple threat
Texting, however, will distract the driver in all three of the main ways that distractions can occur. This includes physical, mental and visual distractions. Physically, unless using a hands-free device, texting requires use of one or both hands. This means the hands are not on the wheel for some time.
Visually, unless using voice command, the texter must look at the screen when reading or sending text messages. This takes their eyes off the road. Finally, texting takes the driver’s mind off of driving. This is the one form of distraction that technology cannot combat.
Due to this three-pronged threat, many texting incidents result in crashes with high rates of injuries or even fatalities. This is why so many safety campaigns focus specifically on texting while driving, trying to spread the news of just why it is so harmful.