Understanding The Risk Of Distracted Driving

Illinois is among the large majority of states to have enacted a ban against texting and driving. Legislation forbidding the practice is one means of combating the number of serious car accidents involving this form of distracted driving. It is not enough to stop the practice, however. It is important to gain the public’s acceptance that texting and driving is dangerous and to view the conduct as a significant threat to safety. A recent study appearing in the International Journal of Sustainable Strategic Management suggests that there is a lot of work to be done to get people to change their behavior.

The study, conducted by professors at Kings College in Pennsylvania, found that 82 percent of college students admitted to texting while driving. In addition, it found that many of the people who engaged in texting behind the wheel understood the practice was dangerous, but believed that they were skilled enough as drivers to minimize the risk. This belief was particularly common among male respondents.

The goal of the study was to analyze a person’s impulsiveness in general to see if it had a connection to a propensity to text and drive. When broken down by gender, the results were as follows: Females who were more impulsive were not more likely to text while driving. Females in general were more likely to recognize the dangerous nature of texting and driving. Males were less impulsive about texting, but were also much less likely to appreciate the dangerousness of the conduct.

Overconfidence and the mistaken belief that a person can multi-task safely behind the wheel are not uncommon. Texting bans may eventually work to reduce accidents caused by distracted driving. In the meantime, it is important to make people realize that they are not uniquely capable of texting and driving safely at the same time. Texting while driving is unsafe behavior for everyone, regardless of their driving skill.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Males downplay risk of texting and driving, study says,” by Monte Morin, 11 October 2013

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