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The real reason people text and drive

Most of us have heard by now that texting and driving is more lethal than drunk driving. We know we are impaired when we have been drinking. But even though there are many studies to the contrary, many of us do not want to believe that we are impaired or dangerous when texting behind the wheel. 

The real culprit behind texting and driving

Psychologists have identified the reason we humans can be presented with hard evidence and yet refuse to accept it. It's called confirmation bias and although most of us do have this to some degree, it's the reason drivers will continue to text and drive- even after an accident. 

What is confirmation bias? 

The dictionary defines it as "the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories." What this means for people who text behind the wheel is that every time they text and drive and don't get into an accident or hurt someone, they tell themselves it is safe to do so, because they have just proven it. 

These drivers are able to reject all of the studies that show how dangerous texting and driving is because they really want to be able to text and drive. 

Top 4 reasons people text while driving

Confirmation bias is the reason people will still text while driving even though it's dangerous. But there are four big reasons why texting is so tantalizing. 

1. We convince ourselves of the impossible. We believe we are paying 100 percent of our attention to two things at once: The text they we reading or writing and what is happening on the road in front, to the sides and behind us.  

2. We tell ourselves that other people shouldn't text and drive, but that we have special skills that allow us to do it safely. This is pure rationalization. In some cases it stems from narcissism. 

3. We don't want to feel left out. We worry we will miss something important if we are not constantly plugged in and to quell this anxiety we stay online. 

4. We are bored. Psychologists proffer that we are less able to entertain ourselves due to our more recent cultural habit of constant stimulation. In fact, scientists at the National Institutes of Health now know that children's brains are different when they are allowed lots of screen time and iPhone use.

There are many other reasons people still text and drive. It can be very tempting, and seem like an addiction if not held in check. The best remedy is to put the phone away or get an app that shuts off social media pings when you are behind the wheel. As awkward as it can be, passengers too, should speak up and tell drivers they do not feel safe when a driver is on the phone. 


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