When you are first learning to drive, your main focus is on becoming comfortable behind the wheel and eventually getting a license. Through the instruction of a teacher or another experienced driver that is close to you, you are taught where to put your hands on the steering wheel, where to look every few seconds, and what to prioritize while on the road. As a novice, all efforts are made into becoming a good driver. In this stage of learning how to drive you are attentive to everything that is happening around you.
As time goes on and you pass the DMV test and you get your license, getting and driving behind the wheel seems like a less daunting task. You are more comfortable behind the wheel and used to being on the road. Everything that was learned is less of a conscious effort and more of an automatic reflex. Distractions seem less noticeable and the task of driving becomes mundane. You start to play music on the radio, eat food in the car, and begin browsing on your phone to pass the time.
These bad habits lead to a driver neglecting what they learned from the beginning in favor of convenience and leisure. In the realm of distracted driving, using a mobile device to text while on the road is especially dangerous. “Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”
When checking the mirrors every 5 seconds is replaced with checking your phone every 5 seconds, this affects the way you drive and react to what is happening around you. Imagine getting an update on your phone. You check your messages and read a one-word response from your friend. You laugh, put down the phone, and finally look up. The car ahead of you is idle but you are driving toward it at a high speed. You try to slow down and slam on the brakes. But your best efforts to stop are not enough and you end up rear-ending the car ahead of you. Now imagine that this has just happened at a stoplight. The car ahead of you is behind 3 other cars.
The domino effect of distracted driving can have devastating consequences. Damages, injuries, and even death can happen due to the simple act of reading or sending a text. Five seconds is all it takes. Every safety that you learned while trying to attain a license must be used even when you become an experienced driver. Bad behaviors, no matter how subtle, cannot become bad habits. On the road, you must drive for yourself and others. If the possible harm that you can do to yourself does not steer you away from texting and driving, think about others on the road that can be affected by your actions while behind the wheel. One text is all it takes to change your life.