The Cause & Effects of Texting While Driving

By Jennifer Reynolds

Sending text messaging while driving distracts attention from the main task: driving the car safely. Text messaging sometimes contributes to deadly accidents, which has prompted several jurisdictions to ban the practice. The reasons people text while drivingcan be difficult to pin down, but the effects of it are visible on the roads and in the news.

Cause: Convenience

Text messaging is prevalent in our connected society: Americans send upwards of 100 billion text messages every month. Some of these go out t while the sender is behind the wheel of a car. The reasons for this can include any number of things, including convenience. Sending someone a brief text is easier, and sometimes faster, than calling them. All modern cell phones can send and receive texts, making it an efficient method of communicating.

Cause: Culture, Age and Peer Pressure

A study by the American Automobile Association revealed that 46 percent of teens text message while driving, and 51 percent talk on their cell phones behind the wheel. While there is no evidence that teens openly pressure their peers into texting while driving, there is an expectation in the culture to respond promptly to text messages, even when you are driving. This need to communicate instantaneously causes drivers to respond to texts, which leads to distraction and accidents.

Effects

Texting while driving distracts drivers from the road. A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute claimed that drivers who texted behind the wheel were 23 times more likely to be involved in a serious accident compared with drivers who made phone calls, which increased their risk of accident six times. Talking on the phone can take concentration off the road. When a driver looks down at their phone to text, they also take their eyes off the road.

Legal Implications

Several jurisdictions have imposed penalties for drivers caught texting behind the wheel. In early May 2011, the state of New York made texting an offense worth two points' deduction from your license and gave police the power to stop someone simply for texting while driving. Under previous state law, police could offer a citation for texting while driving but they needed another reason to pull a car over. Many other states have begun to impose fines on distracted drivers in order to cut back on the number of texting and driving fatalities.