Separation Anxiety, Faulty Personal Control Beliefs Lead Majority of Drivers to Think Texting while Driving is Safe: New Study

When it comes to texting while driving, the majority of drivers own faulty personal control beliefs, say the results of a new study.  That is, the majority of drivers believe they are in control and have the ability to multi-task and split their attention between reading/responding to text messages and the road.  (Apparently they missed that day in school when their Psych 101 instructor covered how the human brain is hardwired.) In fact, sixty-eight percent of participants reported they would need a lot of convincing to believe that texting while driving a vehicle is dangerous.

What would lead the majority of drivers to ignore the fact that people who text while driving are six times more likely to be involved in a car crash?  Researchers concluded it was ‘separation anxiety’ and ‘fear of missing out’ that leads many drivers to create a faulty belief system about their ability to personally control the possible deadly outcomes related to this very risky choice.


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Majority of drivers don’t believe texting while driving is dangerous


People who text while driving are six times more likely to be involved in a car crash…In the U.S., mobile phone usage has been a factor in one quarter of all car collisions. To combat this problem, more and more states are adopting driving laws that require people to use hands-free devices in the car. Yet a new study shows that many drivers are still willing to take the risk, as ‘fear of missing out’ and separation anxiety keep them from abiding by the law. The study, published in Risk Analysis: An International Journal, reveals that many drivers don’t perceive texting and driving to be dangerous in certain driving scenarios.

Who is the most likely to text while driving?

While more experienced drivers are less likely to engage in distracted driving, the researchers found that drivers who are female, are frequent users of phones for texting/calling, have negative attitudes towards safety, and are highly disinhibited report much stronger intentions of engaging in distracted driving.


Journal Reference:  Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios, Md. Mazharul Haque, Mark King, Simon Washington. Should I Text or Call Here? A Situation-Based Analysis of Drivers’ Perceived Likelihood of Engaging in Mobile Phone Multitasking. Risk Analysis, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/risa.13119

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About half of parents use cell phones while driving with young children in the car

A new study found that about half of parents talked on a cell phone while driving when their children between the ages of 4 and 10 were in the car, while one in three read text messages and one in seven used social media.