Do cellphones get an unfair share of the blame for distracted driving, or are they really as dangerous as the authorities seem to think?
Unlike many states, Mississippi law doesn’t outright prohibit the use of cellular devices for most drivers. Many people think that it’s really “no big deal” to answer a quick call or glance at a text message while they’re sitting at a light or something similar – but it is. In fact, cellphones may be somewhat unique among distractions, posing a “triple threat.”
There are 3 main types of distractions
According to the Centers for Disease Control, distracted driving behaviors can be divided into three major categories:
- Manual distractions, or things that cause a driver to take their hands off the steering wheel
- Visual distractions, or things that cause a driver to turn their eyes away from the road
- Cognitive distractions, or things that cause a driver’s mind to be focused on anything other than driving
The problem with cellphones is that they combine all three distractions at once. The chime of a text or the buzz of a call can send someone’s mind spinning away from the task at hand even before they pick up their phone and engage in a conversation. Picking up the phone and scrolling through a message or tapping buttons to answer a call is a huge manual, visual and cognitive distraction. Continuing to hold the phone while talking is an ongoing manual distraction.
There’s simply no scenario where using a cellphone behind the wheel is entirely safe. Even if you wait until you get to a redlight to pick up your phone and look at a text, you’re taking your focus away from driving – and it takes a little while to get your mind back on track.
Do yourself a favor and put your cellphone away (with the sound off) while you’re driving. You’ll be a lot safer. Doing so can’t protect you from other drivers, of course, but you will have the satisfaction of knowing that a wreck wasn’t your fault.