Contrary to what many people believe, you don’t necessarily have to pick up the phone to answer your cell phone to become distracted while driving. The notification of an incoming call or message could be sufficient to distract you enough to cause an accident.
According to a new study, distractions don’t have to involve text messaging or talking on a cell phone at the wheel. Even cell phone alerts can cause a person’s mind to wander, and that distraction could actually cause or contribute to a motor vehicle collision.
The results of the study conducted at Florida State University show just how distracting cell phone-related noises really are. When a person hears a cell phone beep or ring informing him about an incoming SMS message, the person’s mind immediately is diverted from the task of driving, and toward the message or call. Even if the person does not pick up the phone to answer the call or read the text message, his mind is now diverted, and he is distracted. The researchers admit that they were surprised at the level of distraction simple cell phone notification alerts can cause.
Earlier studies have indicated that talking on a cell phone while driving causes an adrenaline rush that increases the potential for an auto accident. For many people, reading a text message while driving, or having a cell phone conversation, is a highly pleasurable, even addictive, activity that they simply cannot avoid even though they know it is dangerous and could cause an accident.
Distracted driving is a major threat to American motorists. It causes more than 3,000 accident fatalities every year, and many more injuries. To avoid getting distracted by a cell phone, switch it off while driving. At the very least, keep your cell phone on mute so that you do not get to hear any of the notifications and alerts that will go off even while you’re driving.