A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed that text messaging while driving made the risk of an accident 23 times as high as non-distracted driving. Forty-one states have outlawed texting while driving. Most people realize that texting and driving don’t mix but do it anyway. Why? For many drivers, texting has become a habit, a compulsion, an addiction.
Psychology and communications experts are trying to determine what is happening in our brains when we grab our phones while driving. A trigger like the phone ringing or buzzing is hard to resist and we are rewarded when we respond. Habits are formed when we do something so often that it becomes automatic. Reaching for the phone might be part of a complex array of emotions, not a rational decision. Research into texting has shown that the modern smart phone is programming us, changing our behavior. The new technology is tapping into some very basic human instincts, like the need to connect with others and the need to satisfy human curiosity.
Some researchers think that it is not possible to just turn off these habits when we are driving. Like the smoker who kicks the smoking habit, those who text and drive must learn strategies to change their behavior. Driving is a visual task; anything that interrupts our eyes on the road is a potential risk to you and others.
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