Why is texting and driving so dangerous?

The statistics about the recent increase in distracted driving accidents on Missouri roadways are grim. From 2014 to 2018, cell phone-related crashes shot up by 35% in the Show Me State. And among those accidents, drivers who were texting and driving were 23 times more likely to be in a critical accident.

However, only Missouri and Montana have yet to prohibit all drivers from texting and driving. The other 48 states have passed texting and driving bans for drivers of all ages. Yes, in Missouri, if you are under the age of 21, you can receive a ticket for texting and driving. However, everyone else gets a pass, despite how dangerous texting and driving is.

Distracted driving types

One of the reasons texting and driving is so dangerous is that in encompasses all three types of distracted driving:

  • Manual distraction
  • Cognitive distraction
  • Visual distraction

Manual distracted driving is when you don’t have both hands on the steering wheel or you are juggling another object in your hands while trying to turn the steering wheel. When you are texting and driving with a cellphone in hand, that counts as manual distracted driving.

A cognitive distraction while driving is when you are thinking about anything other than focusing on the road and the cars in your vicinity. When you take time to think about composing a text message, your attention isn’t on the road or the cars around you, a cognitive distraction.

Finally, a visual distraction behind the wheel is when you are looking at something other than the road ahead of you. With a cellphone in hand and texting, you need to look at the screen to make sure you are typing the right message, a visual distraction.

Slowed reaction times

With any form of distracted driving, your reaction times will be slower. You may miss a car quickly moving into your lane ahead of you or traffic slowing down up ahead. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sending a text or reading one behind the wheel will take five seconds. If you are on the freeway at a 60-mile-per-hour speed, your eyes won’t be on the road for at least a mile. Not surprisingly, anything can happen in that amount of time.

Stopping texting and driving

Staying off your cell phone while driving isn’t always easy. However, installing a phone mount and using your phone’s hands-free features will make you far less likely to end up texting and driving. Also, putting the phone in the back seat, turned off, can make the temptation to use it while driving much lower.

No one wants to cause a deadly accident—especially over a text. Avoiding having your phone in your hands while you are driving will not only make you safer, but be safer for everyone traveling with you and around you.