Driver’s education programs and public awareness campaigns have both prioritized educating people about distracted driving in recent years. Distraction at the wheel can cause preventable crashes, and mobile devices are one of the most pervasive and dangerous forms of distraction.
Just reading or sending a text message will force someone to take their hands off of the steering wheel and their eyes off of the road for multiple seconds. They will also mentally focus on the message and their phone instead of on the road in front of them and the control of their vehicle. Some people will try to balance the need for safety with the desire for constant communication by only sending or reading text messages when stopped at a red light. Yet, that “safety trick” doesn’t actually work the way that people think it does.
Distraction doesn’t end when someone sets down their phone
The average person probably thinks that so long as they have set their phone back down before they put their foot on the gas pedal, they won’t have to worry about causing a distraction-related crash. However, researchers have found that it takes longer than people realize to refocus on the complex task of safely operating a motor vehicle.
When someone looks down at their phone and then seeks to refocus on the road ahead, it will take them an average of 27 seconds to fully overcome their cognitive distraction. They will drive for nearly half a minute without total awareness of their surroundings. Therefore, people who see others texting at a stoplight they want to give that driver extra space or make driving decisions based on the assumption that the driver texting at the intersection will not notice them.
It may be worth looking into not only what those involved in a wreck were doing immediately before it occurred to determine what may have truly caused the collision. Distraction that occurred a block away or more before the crash site could actually be to blame.