Driving to Distraction

girl texting accidentDriving while texting is banned in New Hampshire (see NH RSA 265:105-a), and yet we have all certainly either seen people driving while texting or seen the telltale signs that someone may be distracted while driving, such as the inability to maintain a safe speed, ignoring traffic lights, or failure to stay within the traffic lane. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 17% of all accidents reported to the police in 2011 involved distraction-affected crashes. With the increased use of smart phones and other portable electronic devices, it seems those numbers are bound to go up.

So why is it people can’t seem to stop texting while driving? Researchers have found that part of the problem is that our brains are hardwired to want to connect to other people and the reward center of our brain can make it feel good in the moment while texting even if we know we shouldn’t do it. Other studies have found that the part of the brain that helps us make decisions, and inhibits us from doing things we know we shouldn’t, is being too taxed while driving to stop us from making a bad decision like texting while driving. Further, the fact that it is illegal can make people try to hold the device low enough so that they won’t get caught, which actually makes it more dangerous.

So if you can’t live without your phone, then how do you stop texting while driving? Try putting your phone on silent and somewhere in the car where it is out of immediate reach and sight and let’s hope the driver behind you will do the same. It might just prevent an accident.

Author: Attorney Davi M. Peters