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Are we addicted to distracted driving?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2016 | Car Accidents |

Every driver should know that texting and driving is dangerous. However, spend just a little time on the road and you will undoubtedly see several drivers glancing down at their phones as they drift out of their lane or typing away on their phones at a stop light. We know we shouldn’t do it, so why do so many drivers continue to use their phone while driving?

The answer could be linked to what one doctor calls the addiction to our phones. The man, who founded an organization called the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, says that we have an instinctive response to the alerts on our phones, which makes it all but impossible to ignore them.

According to this article in CNN, there are arguments that our brains are wired to respond to the ping of our phones. Those sounds cause a release of dopamine that makes us feel as though checking the phone and getting the update is a reward.

The way we respond to our phones while driving was compared to eating something we know isn’t necessarily good for us. For example, we know that eating a candy bar offers no nutritional value and that it ultimately won’t do anything good for our bodies. But we also know that it will taste good. And we can tell ourselves that one bite or one candy bar won’t ultimately destroy our health, which is what makes it easier to go back for another bite.

This, according to the article, is how our brains handle looking at our phones while driving. We know it’s not a good idea, but we can rationalize that one peek or one quick text won’t do any harm. Unfortunately, however, it can and does.

However, this idea of an addiction to our smartphones could make people feel like they are powerless to stop it, and that they shouldn’t be held accountable for any accidents caused by distraction, but that is not true.

The fact is that we can avoid distraction. We can put our phones away and turn off the alerts while driving, and have the willpower to ignore them so we can focus on driving. And should someone cause an accident because of distraction, they can and should be held accountable.


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