How to Control the Urge to Text and Drive

By Drew Hendricks March 14, 2013

Who would disagree that mobile devices have drastically altered the way people communicate? Cellular and mobile technology have inspired revolutions, upended governments and rapidly transformed the culture. Unfortunately, those amazing changes have come at a high cost.

Accidents related to texting are a major factor that contributes to higher insurance rates. Although competitive insurance prices can easily be found online, high-risk drivers – including those who text and drive – may be hit with premium increases in the event of an accident.

Of course, the ultimate penalty for texting while driving is death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says 3,092 people died in 2010 as the result of “distraction-affected” crashes. That term was coined to include traffic deaths in which texting, phoning or receiving calls contributed to automobile crashes. The Traffic Safety Administration’s definition of distraction while driving includes hands-free phoning.

Here are five ways to battle the urge to text and drive.

1. Keep a mobile device out of sight. The driver may have to fight the urge initially, but if he or she makes it a habit to put the phone away, prior to starting the vehicle, this works quite well. Breaking a habit typically takes about a month, so a driver should commit to this strategy for at least four weeks. After that time, the temptation to text and drive should steadily recede.

2. Turn off notifications. This requires a little more discipline. If a driver forgets to turn off the notifications and starts the car, text notifications will continue to sound. When those pinging noises alert the driver that a text has been received, the temptation to look at the message will raise its ugly head.

3. Appoint a designated texter. Many youthful drivers have readily embraced this idea. The rapid adoption of this approach has been aided in part by the same strategy being promoted in a massive publicity campaign to get drunk drivers off the road. People regard a designated driver as a safer one. The same goes for a “designated texter.”

4. Pull the car over to the side of the road. This is an excellent low-tech solution, which works quite well for cellular voice interruptions that may occur while driving. There are some drawbacks, however. Like a junkie with a need for a fix, the driver may resist the notion, particularly if there is no readily available spot to stop. There is also an increased chance that another driver may hit the vehicle, particularly if the pullover occurs at night, or in an area where the road may curve sharply. It can be very dangerous to pull over in a heavy downpour, or when a heavy snowfall occurs.

5. Use an app to police yourself. AT&T has taken the initiative in this area with the cellular provider’s Drive Mode option. Once it’s manually turned on, the app will disable the phone when the vehicle travels at speeds greater than 25 miles per hour. Providers of similar technology claim the ability to disable cellular phone access when a vehicle is moving at 10 miles per hour. But even if a car is moving slowly, a distracted driver may still kill or maim a child who darts out to fetch a pet or a toy. That’s why it’s a good idea to consider apps that prohibit texting altogether when driving in certain zones, such as schools or playgrounds.




Edited by Brooke Neuman
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