Smartphones are an integral part of daily life for many people, helping them stay connected to work, friends, family, breaking news, and more. Unfortunately, cell phone use is also one of the leading causes of distracted driving-related accidents, injuries, and deaths. In fact, texting while driving increases the risk of a crash or near-crash by 23 times. Add to this playing online games, or surfing the Internet on your phone while behind the wheel and it's easy to see how quickly our roads become less safe. The reason these activities are so hazardous is that they combine the three main types of driver distractions:
- Visual—causes the driver to take their eyes off the road
- Manual—causes the driver to take their hands off the wheel
- Cognitive—diverts the motorist's mental focus from the task of driving safely
Even reading or sending a short text can carry devastating consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you send or read a text while driving 55 mph, your eyes were off the road long enough to travel the entire length of a football field. In an effort to prevent phone-related accidents, Louisiana law prohibits all motorists from browsing the internet; posting to social media sites; and reading, writing, or sending text messages while operating a motor vehicle on public roads and highways.
Though anyone can succumb to the temptation of texting while driving, research shows the practice is particularly prevalent among drivers under the age of 20. This combination of inexperience and distraction can lead to catastrophe. People of all ages can put safety first by keeping their phones off and out of reach while driving.