SIX NATIONS – Countless people text and drive every day, despite the dangers involved.
Taking five seconds to check or respond to a text message while travelling at 90 kilometres per hour means you’ve travelled the length of a football field blindfolded; drivers who text while behind the wheel are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near crash than non-distracted drivers; and roughly 26 per cent of all car crashes involve phone use — including hands free.
It seems to come down to three groups of drivers who text while driving. Drivers who think they can text and rise above the statistics; drivers who only text at red lights; and drivers who admit to texting while driving because they just can’t seem to help it — despite knowing how dangerous it is.
Serena Hsu, a 23-year-old nursing student at McMaster University admits to falling into the third category of drivers. Knowing that no text message is worth the risk, yet still making the wrong decision sometimes.
“I admit to having texted while driving,” said Hsu. “It is foolish because doing anything that takes your mind off the road jeopardizes the safety of another person.”
She said that deciding to read or respond to a text while behind the wheel isn’t safe and is in some ways selfish.
“In that moment you chose yourself over the people on the road. Whether it be a pedestrian, another driver, or your own passengers.
“I think it’s prideful to think we can multi-task because in reality, we can only focus on a few things at a time.”
A recent study indicates that drivers using phones look at, but fail to see, up to 50 per cent of the information in their driving environment. Considering the amount of items on the road that could already be considered distractions like, road signs, pedestrians, and vehicles changing lanes or merging — removing an extra 50 per cent of your attention span to look at your phone sounds like bad news, yet it still happens hundreds of thousands times a day.
Travis Gleason, a 27-year-old child and youth worker said that he has never sent a text message while behind the wheel of a car and doesn’t understand why so many people every day take the risk.
“I struggle to understand how grown men and women lack the necessary willpower to just leave their phones alone,” he said. “I mean, what do they think is going to happen in the next 15 to 20 minutes that they simply cannot live without knowing? Is Facebook really that intriguing? It just seems so needlessly dangerous to me.”
There are several ways to train and help yourself not reach for your phone while driving:
Turn your phone on silent or airplane mode; completely turn it off; put it out of reach — in the trunk, glove box, or centre console; download an app that prevents you from texting while driving; or ask a passenger to hold it for you until you arrive.
“When there’s such a huge risk for endangering yourself or others, texting is never really worth it,” said Hsu.
Statistics were sourced from CAA’s website.