Many drivers understand that behaviors like texting and driving are major sources of distraction. However, these same drivers may think that it’s perfectly safe to look at their phone if they get to a stoplight. They’ll pull up to a red light and use the time waiting for the light to change to check social media, read text messages and much more. Once the light changes to green, they shut the phone down and drive again safely.
Is this scenario actually as safe as they believe it to be?
The next 27 seconds
This approach may be safer than texting while actively driving a car, but it is certainly not safe on the whole. Studies have looked at distraction rates and found that drivers who are using their phones tend to stay distracted for the next 27 seconds after returning their focus to the road. Just putting the phone down doesn’t end that distraction.
The problem is the cognitive side of the distraction, rather than anything physical. The driver has returned their eyes to the road and their hands to the wheel. But they may still be thinking about the text message they were writing or something that they saw on social media.
It takes the human brain a little bit of time to fully shift back into the right mindset for safe driving. This means that the half a minute after texting at a red light can be very dangerous. Drivers could make mistakes, overlook obstacles or make cognitive decisions that even they don’t understand – such as turning left without first yielding the right of way all because they are still distracted, even though they think that they have ended their distracted behaviors.
Distracted driving accidents
This is just one of the reasons that there are so many distracted driving accidents every year. And they, in turn, are a major reason that there are 40,000 fatal accidents in the U.S. every year. Those who have lost loved ones or suffered serious injuries as a result of such accidents may benefit from seeking legal guidance.