With a new year comes the perfect opportunity to reevaluate many of our behaviors and determine if they are serving us or not. Despite our contrary thinking, one practice that definitely is not serving any of us is the use of mobile devices while operating a vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 3,000 people lost their lives to distracted driving in 2017. Many more have been seriously injured. Even though the numbers tell a grim story, the majority of us continue to gamble with our lives and the lives of others by using our phones while driving. What if 2020 was the year you reevaluated using technology while driving? Here are four reasons to help kick off the process.
Reason 1: Safety
The main reason to reevaluate your technology usage while driving should be safety. The National Safety Council reported that cell phone usage while driving results in 1.6 million accidents a year and 390,000 injuries. In fact, texting while driving is six times more likely to result in an accident than even drunk driving. That means that, though we're quick to take the keys from an intoxicated friend and give them a ride home, if we use our phones while doing so, the drunk friend may have actually been more capable of driving home safely than us. Beyond our own safety, when we use our mobile devices while driving a vehicle, we put the safety of everyone else at risk. If this doesn't give us pause for thought, it's unknown what will. Perhaps the next few reasons might.
Reason 2: It's the Law
According to DrivingLaws.org, it is illegal to use a hand-held communication device to compose, read, or send text messages while operating a motor vehicle in Oklahoma. Failure to comply with this law may result in a reckless driving conviction. If the violation of this law results in the accidental death of another person, you may skip a vehicular manslaughter charge and wind up charged with vehicular homicide.
Reason 3: Savings Incentives
Aside from a possible $500 texting-while-driving fine, attorney's rates, or the costs associated with texting-related car damage, there are other ways you can save money by not using your phone while driving. Many car insurance companies are now offering savings incentives for those who do not use their phones while driving. To enact these programs, many use installed mobile applications that track driver behaviors. While the most commonly tracked behaviors are speeding, hard braking, and driving at odd hours, many insurance companies have added phone usage to their list of tracked practices. Don't touch your phone for the duration of your trip and you may end up seeing some significant savings on your next car insurance bill. Ask your car insurance representative for details.
Reason 4: A Communication Break
Once upon a time, no one spoke on phones or texted while driving — and somehow, it seemed ok. Only since the invention of the cellular car phone has the inability to communicate with those beyond the confines of your motor vehicle been perceived as a hindrance. Still, most of us don't see a ride in the car for what it is — a break from digital communication. Driving is a time when no one expects you to respond to messages (if they care about your wellbeing), so why not lean into this time of solitude?
Become Friends With Your "Do Not Disturb" Button
Most of us are "on" 24/7 — never more than a phone call or text message away from being reached by anyone at any time. While this is a tremendous technological innovation that has helped connect people all over the world daily, it can feel overwhelming at times. Sometimes, there is a need to be unreachable. Enter the magical feature available on nearly every mobile device: "Do Not Disturb." Engaging this magical button will render you free of notifications of your choosing. Depending on how you set up your Do Not Disturb settings, a simple tap of a button silences the world beyond your immediate scope and allows you to proceed without having to be perpetually attuned to every ring, buzz, or ding. While choosing your music or podcast of choice for your ride while parked, make a habit of engaging the Do Not Disturb feature on your phone, and enjoy a driving experience free of digital interruption.