LAFAYETTE, Louisiana. According to KOIN 5, an Oregon representative who voted to pass a distracted driving law in her state recently received a ticket for violating that same law. While the irony is clear, it highlights how difficult it can be for the average person to put down their phone while driving. The Oregon representative was reportedly checking her GPS while at a stoplight.
Most Americans know that texting and driving and using your cell phone while driving is unsafe. Yet, many Americans continue to use their phones behind the wheel. Why? According to the University of Southern California, 81 percent of survey respondents said that phone use while driving was not safe. Yet, 18 percent admitted that they found it hard to resist picking up their phones while driving. While age does seem to play a role in whether a person believes that distracted driving is dangerous, the clear majority still believe that using the phone while driving is not safe.
Why do people continue to do it? Researchers have found that phone use can be addictive. When a phone user hears the ping of a new text message, email, or notification, the desire to pick up the phone and check it can be compulsive. When we hear that we have received an incoming message, our brains are flooded with dopamine, a reward chemical. When the brain is flooded with this reward chemical, the parts of our brains linked to reasoning and judgement get inhibited. This creates a situation where your brain is being flooded with “feel good” chemicals that tell you to check your phone, even while the parts of your brain that guide judgement are inhibited. We know it is dangerous to check our phones, but we find it hard to resist.
Given this reality, some groups have put pressure on phone companies and manufacturers to shut down phones or limit a person’s ability to receive messages while driving. Many believe that this will prevent people from having the temptation to check their phones while driving. Apple already has a feature that lets people shut off their phones while driving, but drivers must make the choice to turn it on.
While the story about the Oregon representative being ticketed for distracted driving sounds ironic, it speaks to the very real contradictions we all face when it comes to distracted driving. We know it isn’t safe, yet, still many of us do it. Until greater measures are put in place to stop us from using our phones behind the wheel, we will continue to see people injured and killed due to distracted driving.
Laborde Earles are New Orleans personal injury lawyers who have seen firsthand the devastating effects of distracted driving, texting and driving, and cell phone use behind the wheel. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to another person’s decision to use a phone behind the wheel, visit us today a www.smithstag.com to learn more about your rights and legal options. You may be entitled to receive compensation for your pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages.