If someone asked you if you should text and drive, when you were not in a car, you would probably tell him or her that it is risky. Maybe you have heard of texting drivers getting in accidents or perhaps you know that Florida has a texting and driving ban. Either way, you know not to do it.
In the car, though, you feel differently. It’s not that you do not understand the law or the risk, but it feels a bit less important. You hear the phone buzz or beep, and it is tough not to look at the message. It takes restraint to not answer really quickly; in a fast-paced world, people expect instant responses.
Why does this happen? The reality is that your brain may trick you into texting and driving by convincing you that:
1. Your friends need you to answer
Every little thing feels urgent, almost like an emergency. Can you ignore that text for the next half an hour, until you get out of the car? Or do you actually need to respond now because that’s what people expect you to do? Social pressure can feel intense, especially for young drivers.
2. You are the exception
Other people crash. Other people get tickets. Other people cause accidents. You can read all of the statistics that you want, but you still feel like they apply to other people and you are the exception to the rule. No one ever expects it to happen to them.
3. You can multitask
You can’t. Multitasking is something people love to claim they can do, but really your brain can only do one thing at a time. If you try to do two things, your brain attempts to compensate by jumping back and forth. That still means 100 percent of your concentration can’t be on the road and your phone at the same time.
4. You need a response from your peers
Maybe you have something funny to post on Twitter. Maybe you have a status update to let the Facebook world know what you’re doing. Perhaps you saw something you know will bring in a lot of karma on Reddit. People who study modern society note that online social interactions and positive feedback strongly tie into self-esteem. Getting those likes on Facebook or those retweets on Twitter or that karma on Reddit is about more than the site itself. It actually makes you feel better about yourself, and that feeling can get addicting.
The Florida ban
Florida banned texting and driving. When your brain tricks you into chancing it anyway, you could wind up getting in legal trouble. Make sure you know what rights you have.