Cell Phone Addiction Poses Even Greater Danger Than Distracted Driving on Nevada Roads
Over the past few years, scientists have come to understand more and more about cell phone addiction—and yes, it’s a real thing. Cell phone addiction has been linked to sleep disorders, underlying anxiety problems, and even relationship difficulties.
On the road, cell phone addiction is leading to severe accidents, often resulting in serious injury or death.
The Science Behind Cell Phone Addiction
Most people do not purchase a smartphone with plans to spend their lives glued to it. Instead, that addiction increases steadily over time. Smartphones appeal to the reward centers of the brain. When you check your phone, you have no idea what you will get to see: a great new post on Facebook? A fascinating text? An email that answers the quandaries you’ve been dealing with? When you check your phone, it activates those reward centers and gives you a small shot of dopamine. Your brain learns that your phone brings rewards—and it wants that reward, that small shot of “happy,” more and more often.
While the ability to remain constantly connected to friends and loved ones offers many advantages, it also brings with it plenty of disadvantages. Not only does it lead to a disconnect between people when they’re together in person, it can make it incredibly difficult to concentrate on other things—including driving.
Cell Phone Addiction on the Road
Most drivers now know and acknowledge that texting while driving poses a danger to everyone who shares the road with them. Unfortunately, they keep doing it anyway. They mean to glance down for “just a second,” chasing that dopamine-related reward. On average, however, drivers checking a text message take their eyes off the road for around five seconds. That leaves plenty of time for an accident to occur. At 55 miles per hour, you could move the length of a football field in those five seconds.
Even drivers who try not to check their text messages, emails, or social media pages while driving may find themselves dangerously distracted by cell phone addiction. A phone buzzing or ringing away in the backseat can have a driver twitching to respond, even if he doesn’t intend to actually check those messages until he reaches his destination. Many drivers wear smart watches, which can cause even more distraction than the phone itself. Not only that, knowing that the phone has gone off but not being able to check it can increase stress levels in cell phone-addicted individuals, increasing distraction and stress on the road and raising the risk of an accident.
What Can You Do?
Is cell phone addiction leaving you struggling to control your behaviors on the road? Do you know that you need to set your phone aside, but struggle to actually do it?
Do you, like so many other smartphone-addicted individuals, find yourself suffering from low-grade anxiety if you leave your phone somewhere else, even for a short period of time?
You can take several steps to decrease the addiction and ensure that you can safely navigate on the road.
1. Recognize the addiction for what it is.
The first step in dealing with any addiction is acknowledging that you have a problem and need to do something about it. As long as you continue to insist that you have no issues related to your phone, you will continue to engage in those dangerous behaviors.
Pay attention to your behaviors. Do you constantly check for your phone and feel anxious when you do not know where it is? Do you find yourself checking your phone even in places where you really shouldn’t? Does your phone disrupt interactions with loved ones? If so, you may have a cell phone addiction—and it could impact your driving behaviors.
2. Find a method that works for you.
Some people, especially those struggling with a strong smartphone addiction, may struggle to let their phones out of their reach while driving, even knowing they should not check them. You may not feel confident enough to put your phone where you cannot find it: in the back seat, for example. Others may want to use their phones for music or GPS while driving. Try some of these strategies to keep your eyes off your phone while driving.
- Silence all notifications while driving.
- Install an app that will prevent messages and notifications from coming through while the car remains in motion.
- Place your phone somewhere you cannot reach it and turn it off altogether until you reach your destination.
- Turn off smartwatch notifications and anything else that could distract you from the road.
3. Get in the habit of dealing with your phone before you put the car in drive.
You may have tasks on your phone that you need to take care of. For example, you may need to program your GPS. If you connect your phone to your car via Bluetooth, you may need to choose your music or set your volume.
Get in the habit of taking care of those tasks before you start driving. If you plan to use your GPS, program it before you ever get out of the driveway. Sure, you know how to get out of your own neighborhood, but you do not want to suffer that distraction once you get out on the road. Set your music to a playlist you know you can listen to until you reach your destination. Answer any emergency messages. Then, set your phone aside and leave it alone until you reach your destination.
4. If you must check a message, pull over.
Get off the road and out of the flow of traffic before checking or answering any cell phone messages. Keep in mind that most journeys do not take much time. Within a few short minutes, you can check your phone more safely. If you do need to deal with a message immediately, pull off the road to handle it. This can also help reprogram your brain to feel that checking your messages on the road creates problems, rather than activating your reward centers.
Did you suffer an accident due to another driver’s distraction or cell phone addiction? Need to learn more about your options on the road? We can help. Contact Gina Corena & Associates today at 702-680-1111.