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It isn’t actually safer for people to text at a stoplight

On Behalf of | Sep 4, 2023 | Car Accidents |

It’s been illegal to text while operating a motor vehicle in Oklahoma since 2015. Most people understand that they can end up stopped by a police officer and ordered to pay a ticket carrying a fine of $100 for manually using their phones while driving.

However, people have become increasingly accustomed to instant, continual communication with friends, family members and employees. Therefore, many people find it quite challenging to disengage from a mobile phone while driving, particularly if their commute is a long one. They may look for ways to check on incoming messages or quickly communicate with others without drawing attention from law enforcement officers.

One of the ways that drivers try to get around Oklahoma statutes about texting while driving is by only picking up their phones when stopped at a traffic light. People often believe that they can text someone or read a message quickly before the light changes. What they don’t realize is that looking at a screen produces a cognitive hangover that might contribute to the cause of a crash.

Distraction persists even after hitting send

Researchers have made great strides toward understanding the human brain and how people react to different situations. When looking at how the brain handles the challenges of driving and using a mobile device, researchers discovered a surprising hangover effect that persisted even after someone sat down their phone and resumed looking at the road in front of their vehicle.

On average, someone will experience cognitive impairment for 27 seconds after they stop looking at their device. They will remain unfocused on the task at hand, which means they may not notice or properly react to changing traffic conditions. They will likely have an increased reaction time even if they try to do the right thing. Depending on how fast they drive, those 27 seconds could see them travel quite some distance, possibly without having their full mental focus on the road around them.

Those who cause crashes while breaking the law may be liable for any damages they cause. Traffic cameras and phone records could help establish that someone used their phone while driving and then proceeded to cause a crash shortly thereafter. Understanding how texting at the wheel affects someone’s driving ability may benefit those hoping to pursue compensation after a crash that they believe resulted from someone’s distraction.