Over the past several years, I have noticed a sharp increase in the number of car accidents involving distracted drivers. The scenario is almost always the same. The victim drives down the road or highway and traffic begins to slow. The victim slows his vehicle with the traffic and often times comes to a stop. A car that is behind the victim has a driver that is distracted by a cell phone. Once the victim starts to slow, the distracted driver fails to notice the change in traffic speed and slams his car into the rear of the victims car.
Now, I understand that most of us are guilty of occasionally peeking at our phones while driving. “I just need to send a quick text” or “I have to check my email” are common justifications for peering down at the phone. We also feel comfortable with this practice because we have not had an accident caused by the cell phone distraction. While this may be the case, I can confidently say that if you look at your cell phone frequently while driving, it is only a matter of time before you cause an accident.
Here are the facts. It takes the average person about 1 1/2 seconds to perceive and begin to react to changing traffic conditions. That means that if you are driving at 60 miles per hour, from the time the traffic conditions change, your car will travel about 132 feet before you can even begin to adjust your speed. That is almost 9 car lengths. If you are traveling behind the person in front of you at 60 miles per hour and look down at your phone for just two seconds, your car will travel 176 feet while your head is down. Combined with the time it takes to perceive and react to the changing conditions, your car will travel more than 300 feet (the length of a football field) before you can take any evasive action when you are distracted by your phone.
The message is this. If you look at your cell phone frequently while driving and have not been involved in an accident, you are very lucky. It means that each time you have taken your eyes off of the road to find the perfect emoji, the traffic speed has remained the same. If, however, you happen to take your eyes off of the road at a time when the traffic does begin to slow, it is more than likely that you will be the cause of an accident. You will be the cause of damage to property and injury to others. Think of it this way. If you have ever had the traffic in front of you slow down quickly while you were paying attention to the road, you know that even then it can be difficult to slow down in time to avoid an accident. Now consider that same scenario with your head down for 2 seconds when the traffic slows. It is simply not worth the risk.