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Published On: Wed, Mar 29th, 2017

Study Says Texting Behind the Wheel Is Addictive

People who can’t resist checking their cell phone when they get a message – even while they’re driving – may be addicted to the technology, says a new survey commissioned by AT&T.

photo Oregon Department of Transportation

The study, completed by Dr. David Greenfield at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, found that nearly 75 percent of drivers admitted to doing “texting-related activities” such as reading a text while driving or glancing at their phone to see if there are any new text messages, despite their almost universal agreement (98 percent) that texting while driving is dangerous.

‘A Simple Text Can Turn Deadly’

The reason for this contradictory behavior may be chemical.

“We compulsively check our phones because every time we get an update through text, email or social media, we experience an elevation of dopamine, which is a neurochemical in the brain that makes us feel happy,” Greenfield said in an AT&T news release. “If that desire for a dopamine fix leads us to check our phones while we’re driving, a simple text can turn deadly.”

Greenfield, who founded the University of Connecticut’s Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, also noted that 30 percent of survey respondents who admitted to texting while driving rationalized their behavior (which he says is a classic sign of addiction) by saying that they can easily multitask.

“However, many objective studies show that’s not possible,” Greenfield said.

The compulsion survey, completed as part of AT&T’s “It Can Wait” driver safety campaign, is based on telephone responses from more than 1,000 16 to 65 year olds who own a cell phone, text at least once per day and drive a minimum of nearly every day.

Some of the key survey findings include:

  • 43 percent of drivers said that they read text messages while driving.
  • 27 percent of drivers admitted to sending a text message while driving.
  • 30 percent of drivers rationalized texting and driving because “I’m so used to being connected to my phone; it is simply a habit to use it in the car as well.”
  • 61 percent of respondents said that they regularly sleep with their turned-on phone under their pillow or next to their bed.
  • 35 percent said they feel reluctant to be without their phone, even for a short period.

On a more encouraging note, 82 percent of drivers who took action to stop texting and driving reported feeling “positive/good” about themselves.

Help for Quitting Texting While Driving

To help drivers be more proactive about quitting their texting and driving habit, AT&T has created the Drive Mode app, which silences text alerts when speeds greater than 15 mph are sensed and automatically responds with a default message to incoming messages, among other features. The app, available for Android and iOS, has been downloaded by more than 1.8 million users.

Unfortunately, many more people continue to make the dangerous choice to text behind the wheel. If you are the victim of a distracted driving crash, you likely face medical bills, lost wages and other losses that could potentially be recovered through an auto accident lawsuit.

Author: Jacob Maslow

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