California has one of the most restrictive laws when it comes to distracted driving: drivers can’t have a cell phone or communication device in their hand while behind the wheel. And now, the Senate Transportation Committee has proposed that those drivers caught texting or using a cellphone while driving lose a point off their license to further curb distracted driving.
That’s because distracted driving continues to be a problem. Each day, about nine people lose their lives in the United States and more than 1,000 receive injuries because of distracted driving. Those under the age of 20 are most at risk for being involved in fatal distracted driving accidents, and high schoolers who admit to frequently texting behind the wheel are also less likely to:
- Wear a seatbelt
- Avoid drinking and driving
- Avoid riding with someone who has been drinking and driving
Types of distracted driving
Distracted driving goes beyond using a cell phone and texting behind the wheel though. It can include the following:
- Eating or drinking behind the wheel
- Grooming or applying makeup
- Listening to loud music
- Paying attention to other passengers or children in the car
The dangers of cell use and texting
However, cell phone use and texting is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving because it is:
- A cognitive distraction (it takes your mind off driving)
- A visual distraction (it takes a driver’s eyes off the road)
- A manual distraction (it takes a driver’s hands off the steering wheel)
Texting behind the wheel also is more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk. When drivers answer a text, they become distracted for about four seconds: enough time for a car traveling at 55 miles per hour to go the length of a football field. That’s plenty of distance for your car to encounter an unexpected pedestrian or cyclist, or you miss seeing slowing traffic ahead.
Despite the temptation to use your phone behind the wheel, it’s better to remind yourself how dangerous it is and turn your phone off. You can use hands-free navigation if you need to, so you and your passengers can arrive at your destination safely.