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The dangers of texting and driving

Texting has made it easier to connect with friends and family. You can send a quick reminder, share a photograph or just check in - all with just the press of a button. However, there is a dangerous side to texting. Many people have gotten so used to texting at any time and under any conditions that they no longer think twice about texting and driving, but this kind of distracted driving behavior can be extremely risky.

How many people are texting and driving?

According to a 2015 survey, 75 percent of drivers have observed another driver texting and driving, and a full 33 percent of drivers admit to engaging in this behavior themselves. The most at-risk age group is teenagers, with 40 percent of students reporting that they have either sent an email or a text while driving in the past month. However, people are often reluctant to admit to engaging in risky behaviors, and the true percentage of drivers who text behind the wheel could be much higher.

Is texting and driving really dangerous?

The answer is a resounding yes. Reading or sending texts while driving is far more dangerous than other distracted driving behaviors, such as eating or changing the radio station. The reason is the mental focus it takes. Texting is manual - you must actually manipulate the phone - visual - it involves reading incoming messages or watching the screen while typing - and cognitive - you must think about how to respond to a message. Texting and driving also requires you to take your eyes off of the road. While it may only seem like it takes a few seconds, a person driving 55 mph will cover the distance of a football field in the time it takes to send one text.

Teens are especially at risk

Texting and driving also increases the chances of having a serious accident. Ten percent of teen drivers were distracted at the time of an accident that ended in at least one fatality. This is the highest proportion of any age group. Teens who text and drive are also more likely to engage in other dangerous behaviors, such as riding with an intoxicated driver.

What to do

Put down the phone. There are apps you can purchase which disable email, text and call functions while you are in the car. Just remember, nothing is more important than your safety and the safety of others on the road. It can wait.

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