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Would You Drive the Length of a Football Field With Your Eyes Closed?

Texting = Distracted Driving

We know that many of you drive very long distances to get to and from work, sometimes after an exhausting 24. We imagine those long drives can be lonely, and that sometimes, you find yourself doing something that you know is wrong, (but that feels safe). So, tell us, during those long, lonely drives, do you ever… glance at your phone?

If you do, you’re not alone.

We’ve all seen distracted drivers; people who couldn’t resist the ping of their phone, who fumbled around for a bottle of water, or who blasted their radio so loudly that they were oblivious to the blaring siren of a fire truck. We shake our heads in bewilderment at the lapse in judgment, maybe even mutter some words we can’t print here. But if we’re being perfectly honest, perhaps we’ve done it too, maybe even with our kids in the car.

What exactly is distracted driving? Really, it’s anything that takes your eyes off of the road. Talking to someone behind you, looking for something that fell to the floor, and fiddling with the radio, are all common examples. But the most alarming distraction is texting. On average, 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.

Why is it that so many of us do something that we recognize as dangerous? Science may have some answers. Some scientists think that our smartphones are actually affecting our brains. When our phones ping to alert us to an incoming text or social media update, our brains get a hit of dopamine. The dopamine reward centers are the same centers that have to do with pleasure from eating, sex, drugs and alcohol. When our brains are in that elevated dopamine state, we do not have the same capacity to access the parts of our brain where judgment and reason occur, the prefrontal cortex. In other words, we aren’t the best decision-makers during those moments.

Although, logically, we the know the text can wait, we tell ourselves that we’ll just take a peek because maybe it’s important – an emergency even. And every time we take a look at our phones and get away with it, we reinforce the bad behavior. Since nothing bad happened, we think we’ll be okay if we do it again. We start to believe that maybe the reason nothing bad happened is that we’re exceptionally skilled multi-taskers, when, in truth, we just got lucky. If an unexpected hazard had popped up when our eyes were glancing at the phone, we wouldn’t have enough time to react. That’s one of the most common causes of fatal accidents.

A texting ticket = 24% insurance rate increase and 5 points

And, because we’re lawyers, we’d be remiss if we didn’t remind you that distracted driving is against the law. Under VTL 1225-d, merely holding an electronic device gives rise to a presumption of use, even if you’re stopped at a red light. Drivers convicted of a 1225-d violation are assessed 5 points on their license, per violation, and will get hit with fines and surcharges. On average, one texting ticket will increase your auto insurance premiums by 24%.

If you injure someone, you’ll surely be sued. If you injure yourself, you could lose your career for a non-line-ofduty injury, endangering everything you’ve worked so hard for.

All this is to say that sometimes we all need to be reminded to put aside our electronic distractions. Never use text messaging, social media, email, video games or the internet with a wireless device, including those built into the vehicle, while driving. Install anti-texting apps on your kids’ phones to help them resist temptation. And if you ever get into an accident caused by a distracted driver, remember, we’re here to help, and we’re just a phone call away…when you aren’t driving!

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