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What Are Common Misconceptions About Texting and Driving?

Driving a car is one of the rites of passage that young adults look for from the time they drive their first battery-operated car until they reach sixteen and drive the real thing. Sadly, battery-operated play cars for toddlers come fully equipped with play cell phones, so they begin to learn young.

There's never been any question that a person driving a moving vehicle should be focused solely on driving. The rule books drill safety all throughout the text; driver's education classes stress safety rules and most parents spend serious time talking with their teenagers about driver safety. Driving is a task that requires complete attention - it isn't something you can do while you are doing other things at the same time. Driving IS the job until you safely arrive at your destination.

With the arrival in this new age of electronic communication, cell phone use has seriously endangered anyone who is on the road. Statistics show that distracted driving is the number one cause of nearly 20% of fatal car crashes. Statistics also show that the average person looks at his/her phone at least 150 times per day. So, what do the two have in common? Following are some common myths about texting and driving.

Driving with Both Hands and Talking Into an Earpiece is Perfectly Safe

When a driver is behind the wheel, the only thing he/she should be doing is driving. When other passengers are in the car, they may carry on a conversation which is still considered a distraction. Passengers should be attentive to allowing the driver to drive safely, but the driver who is carrying on a conversation into an earpiece (wireless to a cell phone) is engaged, listening to the earpiece, is unable to attend to the conversation, to the cars that are around, to oncoming traffic, or anything AND driving safely.

Cell Phone Use is the Most Dangerous Distraction while Driving

This couldn't be more untrue. In fact, if a driver's eyes are anywhere but on the road, the chances of having a car accident increase times three. Before cell phones, teenagers who were entertaining friends in their cars were just as distracted, by other things and by each other, but the distractions were not as readily available. Any distraction is unsafe and could include looking at a road map, searching in a glove compartment, or putting on makeup in the mirror.

Reading Texts is Safe, but Texting is Unsafe

Any task that requires a driver to take his/her eyes off of the wheel for even five seconds increases that driver's chances of having a car accident dramatically. A good example would be a driver who is driving at 55 mph who looks at the cell phone for five seconds; his/her eyes are off of the road and driving for the length of a football field. While he/she is reading a text, there could be a car broken down ten feet in front of the car or a person could be running across the road - anything could happen in five seconds that could cost a life (or maybe more than one).

Terrifying, but True

In one recent survey conducted, 77% of teens felt completely confident that they could safely drive and text at the same time. Further, when asked how many times on average they would text and drive going or coming anywhere, 74% answered every time they get into a car. In a survey conducted by the National Safety Council, two out of three drivers admitted to having talked on their cell phones regularly in the last thirty days.

Talking on a Cell Phone is Safe; Texting is the Danger

In a recent survey conducted by AAA, drivers who are talking, either hands-free or on a handheld cell phone, are four times more likely to have a car accident than if they were not on the phone. Many drivers feel that taking their eyes off of the road and engaging their hands in writing the texts is the danger; ANYTHING that is taking the driver's attention away from the road should be considered a danger.

Driving is a privilege. It is a privilege that should be taken seriously, not for granted. Every driver behind the wheel of a moving vehicle on the road is literally responsible for lives; their own as well as those around them. Cell phones have no place in the hands of the driver of a car unless the car is stopped, parked, and turned off.