I was driving down U.S. Highway 280 last week and noticed that the driver of the car following me was holding her phone up with her right hand while she was driving. She and her friend appeared to be watching it. She did this for at least five minutes while she drove at 55 miles an hour.
We all have these stories. We see young and old, men and women, rich and poor, people of all types driving while texting or otherwise looking at their phones. To make matters worse, nearly everyone knows that this is extremely dangerous. There are several high profile advertising campaigns concerning it, including one by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The NHTSA says that in 2017 alone 3,166 people died because of distracted driving.
So why do people continue to do this? Is it because they are evil? Thoughtless? Stupid? Probably not. Driving while using your phone is thoughtless and stupid, many people that do it are not even doing it consciously. This is because smart phones and social media are designed to hijack your attention. Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook admitted that Facebook was designed to “consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible.” Facebook and other social media networks consciously exploit our psychological needs. When driving this exploitation can have drastic consequences when a “ding” or notification on our phone pulls our attention away from the road and toward our phone.
So what do we do about this? Many phones have driving modes, but these are not very effective and can be circumvented. Phones also allow voice control but this can be clunky and there is nothing more annoying that having your phone mishear your voice and call the wrong contact or type the wrong thing (Here is a list of funny autocorrect mistakes but some are not PG).
The safest bet seems to be avoidance. I’ve heard that some motor carriers require their drivers to put their phones in boxes away from them. One enterprising family has created “The Phone Box Movement” and I highly recommend the video (here). The key is stopping the source of the distraction. If you aren’t willing to put your phone in a box, then turn your phone off. If you won’t turn it off, then at least silence your social media, e-mail and text notifications and shut off the screen. Whatever you do, don’t turn into a statistic. Stay off your phones when driving.
If you are injured in a car wreck by someone who was engaging in distracted driving, we can help you recover compensation. Of course, we don’t represent people who contributed to the accident by engaging in distracted driving themselves. Click here to get more information on our personal injury practice.