It’s hard to ignore the urge to read or send a text the moment it flashes on your phone. Texting while driving can be deadly to you or someone else. You should never text and drive. Texting and driving is part of distracted driving (taking your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, your attention off of driving).
Path to improved safety
Avoiding serious injury and even death from texting while driving starts with breaking the habit. You don’t need to read or reply to a text the moment it comes in. It can wait. Better alternatives to responding instantly to a text, include:
- Pull into a safe parking area. If you are expecting an important text before you get into the car, plan ahead for reading and replying. This means driving to the nearest, safe parking lot. If you’re driving in a town or city, find a parking lot. If you’re on the highway, you may have to wait a bit longer to find an exit that takes you a safe area to park. Never park on the side of a highway.
- Tell your friends and family you will not read or reply to texts while you are driving.
- Never text others you know are on the road.
- Make a contract with your new, teen driver not to text and drive. Include a consequence and follow through if you find out your child is texting while driving.
- Turn your phone on off or on mute. This will make it easier to resist the temptation of checking your phone.
- Have a passenger help. If you are expecting an important text, ask a passenger (child, spouse, friend) to read and reply to the text for you.
- Put your phone somewhere you can’t reach it. Put it far enough away to make it difficult to reach. Be careful about reaching for it while driving if you return to old habits.
- Avoid all distracted driving. Texting is just one part of distracted driving. Eating, talking on the phone, listening to loud music, reaching for something in the car, shaving, and applying makeup are all examples of distracted driving.
- Check your state laws. More states are creating strict laws about distracted driving each day.
- Be a good example. If you want to teach your young children and teen drivers not to text and drive, then lead by example. Put your phone away with each trip and be consistent. It’s just like showing your children to buckle up with a seat belt before traveling in the car.
- Encourage your children to tell you if a friend or family member is texting while driving. Be sure to say something to that individual. If necessary, don’t allow your child to drive with that person in the future. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to bring it up with anyone who drives your child. It’s too important not to.
Things to consider
- If you are caught texting while driving, you may be subject to a large fine or even jail time. This is especially true if the accident results in the injury or death of another person.
- Damage to your vehicle also is expensive. Even a fender bender from texting while driving can be expensive to repair. The more severe the damage, the higher the repair cost.
- Insurance rates increase for a person who texts while driving. This can be a noticeable increase in your monthly expenses. This is especially true if it the driver is under the age of 21.
- Lose your license; lose your freedom. If you are charged with texting while driving, you will likely lose your license for a period of time. This depends on the state in which you live. It may not seem like a serious consequence. But when you need to get to school, work, or someplace fun and you don’t have a driver, it can be a real problem.
- Texting and driving occurs at any age. However, young adult and teen drivers are at a higher risk of this behavior.
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.