By on November 11, 2014

texting-driving

Add one more reason for Greg to have missed that stop sign: He was likely addicted to texting while driving, per a study commissioned by AT&T.

Edmunds reports the study, conducted by Dr. David Greenfield of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, noted that three out of four individuals surveyed — from a sample size of 1,004 between the ages of 16 and 65 — simply couldn’t put the phone down to change lanes safely, look out for that semi-trailer et al.

The reason: Dopamine. According to Greenfield, those who check their cell phones every time an update blinks into existence — Facebook, Instagram, texting, etc. — receive a lift in mood thanks to the neurochemical. This could then lead into a feedback loop that could get in the way of driving to the detriment of all on the road.

Further, 90 percent of those surveyed knew it was wrong to do so, but kept texting away through the power of rationalization, with 30 percent placing said power in the belief that they can multitask like their laptops and tablets at home.

As this is a study commissioned by AT&T, the telecom giant is in the midst of a campaign promoting safe driving by putting away the phone (of which the study plays a part). The campaign, It Can Wait, includes an app available to Android and iOS users — sorry BlackBerry and Windows Mobile users — named DriveMode, which can silence text alerts once it senses speeds greater than 15 mph, shutting down once the driver comes to a stop. Over 1.8 million users have downloaded the app thus far.

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77 Comments on “Study: Most Drivers Addicted To Texting While Driving...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “The reason: Dopamine.” How about just being a dope?

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Meh. I know a lot of you are going to get all spun up about this and freak out. Personally, I only care about texting drivers when they’re going slow or can’t react to a green light.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    It’s easy to see what can go happen in these situations.
    Turn on Forza and start racing. Then try to look at a text or look at something on your laptop.
    I was just doing this yesterday and it is amazing how quickly everything goes wrong. I wrecked a beautiful S15 Silvia by not paying attention.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I have a tablet for work that I have to put in a minimal amount of data while enroute, no texting, just yes or no input. I find even that a borderline dangerous distraction

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Well, yeah, racing at 150mph or more. Texting usually occurs in traffic at like 25mph. Let’s not be silly.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        I’ve seen people do it on the Interstate in wintery conditions. They’re lucky to be alive. A girl in an Oldsmobile veered into my lane on a 70 MPH stretch of road in Montana. I had to slam the brakes, and go off the road to avoid a collision.

        Darwinism will thin the crowd. Hopefully it doesn’t thin me out, first.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Racing at 150mph may be hyperbolic compared to 25mph in traffic, but if someone rear-ends me at 25mph because of texting and my kids are in the car, it isn’t so trivial.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    I’ll never understand texting while driving. I actually appreciate the opportunity that driving gives me to ignore electronic communications of all sorts, even if only for 10-15 minutes.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      If I might make an assumption about your age, I assume that you grew up before the time when instantaneous handheld communication became commonplace (and if I’m wrong, I apologize in advance). For us filthy Millennials, it’s more than that; it’s an extension of who we are, as natural as breathing. For some of them, to take that away for any longer than 15-20 minutes is just too much to ask (although I know just as many people my own age who can comfortably go an entire day without their phone as I do those who can’t go 30 seconds).

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        I certainly am ! .

        When texting was new my then 20 Y.O. Son scared me shitless a couple times by zooming through traffic whilst texting .

        Now he’s in his 30’s and no longer needs to drop whatever he’s doing every time it dings .

        WHEW .

        I still have dial telephones .

        OBTW : why ‘ filthy ‘ Millennials ? . I recall Hippies didn’t often bathe (ick) but Millennials seems to like soap and water pretty much , non ? .

        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          The “filthy” remark is equal parts self-deprecation and a parody/mockery of those in other generations who might be quick to denigrate Millennials. I can’t take credit for it; I heard it somewhere else.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        I’m about 20. I’ve never been the type to even want a cell phone- especially not in a car. I put the thing away when driving.

        Driving is one of the best experiences out there. Why waste it? Why get yourself killed?

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          See one of my comments farther down. The Midwest isn’t known for its engaging driving experience, and even that great feeling of freedom we get from the wide-open road can get boring pretty quick (think I-90 from Sioux Falls to Rapid City, SD).

          Though don’t take my response(s) to mean that I’m justifying or defending cell phone use behind the wheel. You and I are both part of the first group I know, rather than the second. When my mother calls, though, all bets are off, because if I don’t answer it she assumes I’ve died.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          “Driving is one of the best experiences out there. Why waste it?”

          Come join me around 6PM to drive from Des Plaines, IL to Inverness, IL on route 62, in the rain. Tell me how awesome it is.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            I’ve never been through Des Plaines, but I’ve been through Northern Illinois. I see your point.

            But, I’ve gone through all of Nebraska on I-80.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcWn4eCyAFo

            The time-lapse still makes it look boring. I was able to enjoy the drive, though.

            Somehow.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “Come join me around 6PM to drive from Des Plaines, IL to Inverness, IL on route 62”

            Ha, ha… do it all the time, Yikes!

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        Dr Z, my avatar is evidence that what you assume about my age is correct (Clutch Cargo is a really lame cartoon show from my youth). The order of my preference in communication goes face-to-face conversation, telephone, email, texts. I will annoy people of your generation by calling if I respond to your text and get another text in reply. That’s no way to relate to another human. I get that Millenials and younger have a very different view of interacting with friends and family, but the need to constantly remain in contact is what troubles me. My time spent driving is almost a form of meditation, where I can let my mind process thoughts with minimal interruption. I would never give that up just to respond to ‘Sup.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @ClutchCarGo – Yes but are you completely amune to distractions of other sorts? Like thoughts that invoke emotions? You ever spill your coffee? Eat while driving? Change a cassette tape? Otherwise, how dare you?

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        My father had a case of cassettes first in his ’76 Cordoba, then in his ’81 Mirada, then his ’79 T-Bird, going all the way up to my first vehicle, the ’98 F-250 SuperCab. Mostly The Cars, Loverboy, Boston, ELO; a few one-offs like Hi Infidelity, Eliminator, and MCMLXXXIV; quite a few tapes of his or friends’ records or labeled “A.L.B.O.E.” (taped from the radio). He knew the exact position of every tape and could select, insert or change the tape without looking.

        Neil Young’s “Trans” is a really weird album.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          My dad, a generally very frugal guy, once paid a not-insubstantial amount of money to have a dealer-accessory cassette deck installed in his ’06 Accord coupe. Seems he liked to tape various radio shows (NPR, sports talk radio) during the day and listen on his way home from work.

          Fortunately we finally got him into iPods/podcasts and satellite radio, so no more cassette decks. Can’t find any more available anyways.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        No one can ever be immune from distractions while driving, but I minimize them wherever possible. I rarely drink while driving, resorting to sippy cup style water bottles on long trips. I never eat while driving unless I have a co-pilot handing me food. Music/radio adjustments must either be a minimal button press or has to wait until I’m stopped at a light. I do answer my phone while driving but pull over ASAP if the call involves more than “I’m on my way”.

        More to the point, I appreciate my time behind the wheel for what it is, successfully navigating 2 tons of steel thru obstacles to reach my destination, without having to respond to casual comments that are best left for later when I can give them more attention.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        I actually still use cassette tapes. I reserve them for the long roads when nothing is playing. I have Springsteen in my Audi right now.

        Thanks to the advent of steering wheel controls, I can focus, and change stations. Thank you Audi! I know, they were on the Pontiac 6000. But, I don’t want 43 buttons on my steering wheel.

        Texting is a lot worse than mindlessly pushing a button.

        U hav 2 mis spL wrds. dat takes a lot of buttons!

  • avatar
    boogieman99

    …another reason why common folks need self-driving cars.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    A sample size of 1,004 is hardly enough to make a concrete statement regarding all drivers in America. Within that, the number who admitted to texting while driving is 747. That’s not statistically significant. It’s a small, company-funded study done to provide a sound bite while seeming on the surface to be scientifically relevant.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    This will surely turn into serious click bait straightaway .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Well you should never take your eyes off the road for more than split seconds at a time, regardless of the distraction. Like reading a billboard or checking gauges. Or a babe in hot pants… Sometimes it takes me several passes to read a billboard. Or several miles to text a simple “chli relno 2 nchalad”

    I can guarantee texting makes up a tiny, inconsequential fraction of distracted driving accidents. I’ve had several near-miss accidents from distracted driving and none were while holding electronic devices.

    But I find myself holding the device down low and have to scold myself. I hold it up in my driving field-of-view, near center. Tickets are better than accidents. I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      dswilly

      Isn’t that the “ Driving is inherently distracting, what’s wrong with more distractions?” argument. I think texting is pretty well documented as more distracting than looking at billboards and gauges.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Yes it can be more distracting. I did have to train myself not to use the device for more than split seconds at a time. The devices do pull you in, and you lose the sense of time/space. It’s the same reason hot chicks cause distracted accidents. I had to train myself not to stare too long at those devices too!!!

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    In my opinion, such behavior qualifies as OCD. Short of an imminent, life or death emergency, there is no need to use your phone while driving. Check for messages before starting out. Then, shut your phone off and throw it in the back seat. You can check again during rest stops and on arrival. In between, pay attention to your driving.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      If we didn’t make driving so painfully juvenile through absurdly low speed limits, piss-poor traffic light timing and congestion mitigation, stupid endless 50-mile “construction zones” with 100 yards of actual congestion, etc, maybe people wouldn’t be so cynical and bored behind the wheel that they look for other stimulation.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        We Americans sure do have it rough with our triple-digit-mile stretches of straight roads, punctuated only by curves slight enough to be tackled with knees-only steering.

        I actually make it a point not to drive any farther than 100 miles without somebody else in the car.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Man I still text and drive.

    It’s a b*tch to do while shifting.

    You know what else is a b*tch while shifting?

    Having TWO large soft drinks (32 oz or better) in the cup holders, so conveniently located directly behind the shifter.

    Second and fourth (6MT) always make contact with the damned cups. That always throws me off.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Our F-350 regular cab has seating for two and two cupholders, or seating for three and no cupholders (flip-down console). If it were an automatic, it would have four cupholders, and there’d be space enough in the door pockets for several bottles of water if they weren’t filled with garbage and McDonald’s napkins. ‘Murica.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Try tying your shoelaces while driving a car with three pedals!! Especially one without tilt steering, which means the steering wheel is always in the way of getting to your shoelaces!

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        I remember looking next to me in traffic one day, and here’s a kid in a Jetta holding his mobile phone in his right hand while shifting with his left.

        I don’t know how for the life of me he was doing it. I don’t think I could do it.

        And lately, I’ve been scratching gear at least once a day while going into 3rd (has to get in there “just so” sometimes). Finnicky little shifter.

        Hmmmph.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        That sounds like an easy way to honk the horn with your face.

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          No, your face isn’t for honking the horn, your elbows are for hoking the horn. How else is one supposed to operate the horn while flossing one’s teeth at the same time?

          edit: “honking,” not “hoking.” Dang autocorrect and touchscreens do the zaniest things when a cop is next to you in traffic.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            The only time my elbows end up honking the horn (and really, the only time my horn gets honked) is when I slip on ice while exiting or entering the vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            The answer to slipping on ice is obviously a smartphone app to warn you when there might be slippery ice present.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            My old A8 seemed to track when conditions were right for ice/snow, as it would put a little snowflake on the dash next to the temp on some cold occasions, but not others. And it wasn’t just temp related, because there were times when it was freezing but no snowflake, IIRC.

          • 0 avatar
            raresleeper

            Your “old” A8, Corey?

            Sweeeeet….

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Yes, old in that A) it was kinda old (8) when I got it, and B) don’t have it any more.

          • 0 avatar
            raresleeper

            Oh.

            You’ve done well in both A.) English and B.) Literature classes of your past, haven’t you?

            And if you say that you are fond of Shakespeare, then I’ll have to virtually slap you.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Too many layers of sarcasm!

            I guess I have to watch when I use the word “old” instead of “prior.”

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            My A6 has the snowflake, too. I think yours has more sensors, though.

            According to Audi World, “The snowflake comes on between +5 and -5 Centigrade and whatever the equivalent is in Fahrenheit.”

            It’s pretty useless, it seems. The newer ones are supposed to be more intelligent.

            Someone with money- go buy a late-model Audi and tell us!

  • avatar
    cirats

    Cameron – Why the hyperbole in the title and text, suggesting that this study concludes that “most drivers” are “addicted to texting while driving” and that “three out of four . . . simply couldn’t put the phone down to change lanes safely, look out for that semi-trailer et al.”???

    The study says that about 3/4 of drivers “have done one or more” of various texting related activities behind the wheel, which would include just having done them once (far from an “addiction”), and the activities include doing things while stopped at a red light (not to defend that, but even the study differentiates that from “while driving” and it makes your comments about changing lanes and looking out for semis that much more hyperbole).

    Maybe it’s just me, but this type of mischaracterization of studies is a real pet peeve of mine on this site, and I’d ask that you please stick closer to “the truth about cars.”

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    It is great that folks are downloading the app but I think the phone company should make it mandatory or at least disable texting when motion is detected. In 2008, while in Arizona, the GPS in our rental car would not allow any input whatsoever when moving. Same should go for cellphones. Texting simply creates too big of an inattention window and bad things can happen. I get the dopamine effect and how special one must feel when they receive a text (oh, you are soooo special!) but enough already. People won’t do it on their own so force them to. I don’t text so it makes me even more enraged when I see so many people with their heads down while driving (and not at under 25 mph as said above).

    • 0 avatar
      cirats

      Yeah – passengers in cars, people on buses and trains, etc., shouldn’t be allowed to text, just like my wife shouldn’t be allowed to operate the GPS in my car while I’m driving.

      There may be one out there, but I have yet to hear of any technological “solution” to this issue that doesn’t go too far. Even if somehow linked to the driver’s phone, I ought to be able to dictate a text or e-mail to my passenger, which I do quite regularly when we are traveling and I’m driving and need to communicate for work. The “solution” would need to just prohibiting ME from using a device, other than on a mostly hands-free basis, while I am actually driving the car.

  • avatar
    JK43123

    DING! DING! DING! DING! We have a winner! Yes the reason I like being in the car is that no one can reach me.

    Put down the phone and drive!

    John

  • avatar
    fiasco

    I wouldn’t call most of my time behind the wheel “Driving”, Bob.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    You know, I actually tried distracted driving a few times just to see how it is, just yakking on the cell while doing 40, that scared me more than RWD winter driving, at least the latter gives me more control.

    I can’t blame age, I see Gen X’ers text pretty often, mostly fat women in CUVs.

    But honestly, textings a smaller concern for me, I keep seeing cars with aftermarket mini DVD players in them now, and people watching films are always driving poorly.

    It all comes down to the biggest problem with modern social behavior, almost no one has any self-awareness nor disciplined, they just act.

    One of these days I’m going to become and engineer, and make a little box with a button that shuts down all phones within a 100 foot radius. I guarantee that’ll make the roads a bit safer.

  • avatar
    bugmen0t

    AT&T is full of it, with their alleged concern about texting and driving. They commission studies, they hold events, they give out stickers and buttons.

    But, what they can and won’t do, is turn off texting on their phones when people are in moving cars.

    The technology exists to do this. AT&T won’t implement the technology, because they want the profits generated by folks texting in cars. The excuse is that the passenger may want to text, and they must not prevent that.

    Sadly, their mobile competitors are no better in the morality department.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “AT&T is full of it”

      Pretty much all you needed to say, totally agree

    • 0 avatar
      cirats

      What is wrong with allowing passengers in cars, buses, trains, etc. to text and otherwise use their phones and simply relying on the system we already have present to deter dangerous driving (specifically, traffic laws (which in many places already criminalize texting while driving – and I’m fine with reasonable extensions of that) and the concept of being liable for harm that occurs as a result of one’s own negligence)?

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      As much as I’d love for phone companies to implement that technology, it could get annoying for some and give them bad reputations.

      The way that I see it, they should incorporate a “driving mode” while selling hands free things that deactivate it, profit for them and no textingdriving for us. Its a win-win situation.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    ” One of these days I’m going to become and engineer, and make a little box with a button that shuts down all phones within a 100 foot radius. I guarantee that’ll make the roads a bit safer.”

    This device already exists , apparently it’s not legal in the U.S. .

    I tried to buy a similar device that shuts off televisions , couldn’t get it here .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      That “device” will land you in jail for a long time, Nate

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        I guess so but I hate the blaring TV’s everywhere I go these days .

        I’d buy one and give it a go if I could but find one .

        -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        If I ever made a device like that let me just say that I’d never, ever sell it, be it a TV or phone “deactivater”, if anything I’d probably take it all apart and scrap it.

        Plus that’d be pretty evil to keep people from watching M*A*S*H reruns.

        The best TV device ever made would be the remote, and some places will let you lower the volume if you ask.

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