It isn’t often that we stop and think about behavior that’s become automatic. The tendency is to believe that because we’ve done it for so long that it’s somehow fine to continue this way. One area where this is most decidedly not a good idea is certain behavior drivers engage in behind the wheel. Case in point: Using a smartphone while driving.
Before you hit the delete or exit button to disengage from this post, consider the following 10 honest reasons to give up your smartphone when you drive:
Nothing Is Ever That Important – Let’s face it. We’re notoriously self-absorbed human beings. We have a tendency to think that our words, thoughts and actions define the world when, in fact, we’re simply part of human existence. When it comes to our obsession – and there’s no more appropriate word than that – with smartphones while driving, it’s clear that we’re taking this self-appointed freedom as somehow our right. The truth is, however, that nothing we can say or text on that smartphone is ever that important – or rarely so. It is true that there are some emergencies that require calling 911 or issuing an urgent appeal to a family member, but these are rare. Furthermore, to make or receive such a call or text, we can safely pull over to the side of the road to do so. It’s also true that real emergencies aren’t generally lengthy conversations where you go into intricate detail that takes an hour to communicate. It’s quick and done. Getting back to casual or killing time conversations while driving, this is simply not the best use of your time. It’s also highly likely to result in the next reason to give up your smartphone while behind the wheel.
Distracted Driving Increases Crash Likelihood – Numerous studies from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the National AAA, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, State Farm and others have shown that distracted driving – of which talking and texting using smartphones is a key example – dramatically increases the risk and likelihood of crashes. Driving tests using simulators demonstrate that driver errors – including speeding, failure to look right and left at intersections, and following others too closely clearly point to a necessity to pay full attention to the task at hand: driving. When you’re distracted by using a smartphone, you’re not giving your complete concentration to driving. That could prove a fatal mistake.
You Can’t Do Two Things Well At Once – When it comes to executive decision-making, trying to navigate a vehicle going down the road, paying attention to unexpected situations that arise in the course of driving, and attempting to carry on a conversation, initiate or receive a text are diametrically opposed behaviors. It’s not humanly possible to give your complete attention to driving and using a smartphone. Something’s got to give. Divided attention means distancing yourself from critical driving behaviors – and this is yet another good reason to park the smartphone somewhere you can’t reach it as long as you’re behind the wheel.
It’s Selfish, Rude And Inconsiderate – Most people think of themselves as caring for others, being polite and considerate. Yet once we’re behind the wheel and actively engaged in talking or texting others using a smartphone, we display behavior that’s anything but. We’re more likely to show that we’re selfish, rude and inconsiderate – not exactly the kind of behavior we want to showcase, let alone experience in other drivers. It’s no excuse that we see this behavior everywhere on American roads, streets and highways. That doesn’t make it right. We can change our ways. In fact, we should make it a priority to do so.
This Is A Bad Habit That Only Gets Worse – Like any other bad habit left unchecked, using a smartphone while driving only becomes more entrenched over time. It gets worse, not better, unless we make a concerted effort to stop this self- and other-destructive behavior. Too many of us have come to believe that we cannot exist without our instant connection, that to miss a single text or call will somehow alienate us from our friends and loved ones. We might lose out on a key business deal or miss an opportunity – at least that’s what we tell ourselves. We’re wrong about this. It’s all a matter of perspective, of knowing when and where it’s safe and appropriate to have these conversations, these connections – and it’s not behind the wheel of a vehicle going down the road.
You’re Modeling Poor Behavior – Consider the fact that your children are keenly aware of everything you do behind the wheel. If you’re angry or upset or deeply engrossed in conversation with someone using your smartphone, your kids see this and the lesson is given that the smartphone is OK to use while driving. This may not be your intent, but it is the result. The more often your children see this poor behavior you’re modeling, the more ingrained the idea that this is normal behavior will be. Your kids will, in fact, grow up to display the same kind of behavior – because that’s what you taught them. This is all the more reason to give up your smartphone when you drive.
The Behavior Removes You From The Present – One thing many smartphone users fail to recognize is that this behavior removes you from the present. You might be talking about something that happened in the past or making plans for a future event or engagement. It might be that you’re involved in a heated discussion or argument that completely consumes your thoughts – leaving little room for paying attention to what’s happening with the line of cars in front of you or the light that just turned red and you’re approaching the intersection. If you’re engrossed in your conversation or texts, you’re not in the present – where you need to be, since you’re driving a vehicle and putting yourself and others in jeopardy as a result of your behavior.
It’s Against The Law – If you’re using a hand-held device, talking on the smartphone or texting is against the law. For teens, texting while driving is prohibited as well. Even if you use a hands-free device, however, you’re not out of the woods, safety-wise. Recent research points to the distracted nature of using smartphones in any mode – hands-free or hand-held. In other words, it’s the disconnection of your thought processes and decision-making that using a smartphone while driving promotes. How you hold or don’t hold the device has less to do with it than the fact that your brain is disengaged from the business of driving.
Think Of The Consequences – No one likes to think that they’d be responsible for causing the death or injury of another person (or persons) as a result of using a smartphone behind the wheel, any more than they’d want to take responsibility for harming others because they were drinking and driving. Thinking of the potential consequences for such behavior rarely enters the picture – until after the fact when it’s too late. Is that text or call really so critical that it cannot wait until you’re no longer driving? Chances are 100 percent that it’s not.
Rearrange Your Priorities To What Matters – Let’s be honest here. Everyone has certain priorities, things that matter to them. Consider the fact that driving is a privilege, not a right. We should all rearrange our priorities to take into account that to exercise this privilege, we need to abide by the rules. When behind the wheel, driving has to be a priority – not who we’re trying to connect with to meet for lunch or discussing your son or daughter’s latest escapade or how your dog got lost last night or smoothing over a disagreement with your spouse or partner. There are good times for these types of conversations – just not when you’re driving.