What Strategies Actually Work to Reduce Texting and Driving Auto Accidents?

February 22, 2017

To prevent texting and driving auto accidents in South Carolina, you might think that one of our most effective tools is education. If we educate drivers and make sure that they fully understand the risks of severe injury and fatalities associated with this behavior, then they are less likely to do it. Right? Unfortunately, surveys conducted on the issue reveal the opposite.

Even though the vast majority of drivers (98% of those surveyed) are fully aware and cognizant of the risk they are taking, a significant percent (75% of those surveyed) do it anyway. More than 65% of the surveyed drivers expressed that they would read messages when they felt safe and were stopped at a traffic light, and 25% openly admitted that they compose and send messages via text while they are actively driving with the vehicle in motion. More than 25% expressed the belief that they are capable of safely multitasking while they drive.

Why Do People Text and Drive When They Know the Risks?

As mentioned, many drivers feel confident in their ability to multitask and text while driving, despite knowing the actual risks. There are multiple explanations for why drivers ignore these risks and continue to engage in unsafe behavior. One is the invincibility concept or overconfidence, which is wrapped up in that sense of sureness in the driver that he or she is capable of safely texting and engaging in various other tasks while driving. Although the driver might acknowledge that the behavior could cause an accident, people tend to believe that the risks associated with such tasks are relevant to other people, but not themselves.

Beyond this, there is the compulsive desire to keep checking the phone for text messages, email messages, and messages and notifications on social media accounts. This is caused by the surge in dopamine that our brains experience when we receive these messages and notifications. Dopamine is like a happiness hormone, a neurotransmitter that is elevated when good things happen, and can serve as a kind of reward for certain behaviors. It can also be addictive, so that we feel the need to keep checking for those notifications and messages and to keep conversations going, reading and responding, to keep feeling the dopamine effects.

As far as the explanations provided by the drivers themselves, around 28% expressed a fear that they might miss something of importance by waiting until later to respond to messages. 25% expressed the confidence in their multitasking and driving abilities as the main reason. Another 25% cited the pressure of the expectation to respond quickly as the cause of their risky behavior. Fewer drivers admitted to being addicted to texting (6%), while nearly 15% expressed anxiety when they didn’t respond and more than 15% expressed positive feelings from texting.

Yet, texting while driving is one of the primary components of distracted driving auto accidents. It causes enough deaths to have become a source of serious concern for all drivers, and is so fatal among teenage drivers, that all parents should take note. If being aware and educated of the risks doesn’t stop the behavior, then what else can be done?

Laws Prohibiting Texting and Driving in South Carolina

The natural response to that question is found in legislation that has been passed in South Carolina and in many other states to prohibit texting and driving. However, if education doesn’t prevent drivers from texting while driving, are these laws any more effective?

Finally, we have some good news to share on the subject. The American Journal of Public Health revealed in a research study on texting and driving that these kinds of laws are effective. They are actually the most successful methods of stopping people from driving while distracted by their electronic devices and text communication.

The study looked at a timeframe of eleven years, during which time the rates of auto accidents and police traffic stops were evaluated and analyzed for data to determine how effective legislation that prohibits texting and driving really is. They found that these laws are effective enough to prevent around twenty auto accident every year, in each state with a texting ban.

South Carolina Banned Texting and Driving in 2014

In light of this information, with the knowledge that a legal ban on texting while driving would be the most effective preventative measure for texting and driving auto accidents, South Carolina became the 45th state to pass such legislation in June of 2014. Yet, prior to this, there were multiple counties and municipalities that had already enacted their own bans within the state, including Charleston, Greenville, and Beaufort. The state wide ban ensured that the legislation was applied in the same way throughout the state and made it much easier for driver’s to know the law, regardless of where they were driving within the state.

Were You Injured by a Texting Driver in South Carolina?

Whenever a distracted driving accident occurs, the consequences can be devastating, regardless of what the distraction was. People can be distracted by the radio, by their passengers, by eating, by grooming, and by phone calls. They can even be distracted by their own daydreams and events that occur outside of their vehicles. Yet texting and driving is among the leading causes of distracted driving auto accidents, despite plenty of educational efforts and even proactive legislation to prevent these behaviors. While legislation is more effective at preventing such accidents than education, and it does prevent about twenty accidents per year in South Carolina, it is still a big temptation for many drivers and leading cause of accidents.

If you’ve been injured because someone else broke the law and chose to text and drive despite the risks and consequences, then you are entitled to fair compensation for your injuries and losses. You can recover compensation for your medical expenses, your lost wages and potential future earnings, your property damage, and more, depending on the case and the damage. Call the determined South Carolina auto accident lawyers Connell Law Firm to learn more about your rights and how to successfully pursue a distracted driving auto accident claim in South Carolina.