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How texting while driving can become a dangerous addiction

According to a 2008 report from Nationwide Insurance, four out of five people with cell phones admit to using their devices while driving.

More than likely, if you encounter another motorist texting while driving, it won't be difficult to discern that the driver is distracted. You may notice a bit of swerving, inconsistent speeds or a delay in reaction time after a light change.

Is texting while driving really dangerous?

Texting or speaking on your cell phone as you drive actually impairs your reaction time even more than being intoxicated, according to Distraction.gov.

Additionally, it is dangerously distracting. If you text regularly, you may already be aware that it only takes seconds to complete a text. However, you may not know that five seconds, which is the average amount of time that your eyes are diverted from the road when texting, is enough time to drive the length of an entire football field if you are traveling at 55 mph.

Imagine how easy it would be to cause an accident during that five-second span.

Why do people do it?

Realizing that texting can increase the chance of an automotive collision is not enough to prevent everyone from stopping the dangerous practice. Here are a few reasons why:

Cell phone usage is addictive.

Your brain responds to the audible alerts from your phone, even if you don't want it to. As a result, it is difficult for you to simply ignore an incoming text.

The same compulsion that governs chemical addictions partially controls your cell phone usage. Like other stimuli that cause a release of dopamine, which is one of the brain's feel-good chemicals, cell phone usage energizes the reward center of your brain. Consequently, when you hear the audible alert indicating that a text has been received, you automatically seek the reward of discovering who has texted you.

It's not easy to turn the phone off or silence it.

As a CNN article points out, even though you may know that it is best to turn your phone off or to silent mode as you drive, you feel compelled to leave it on, because the expectation associated with learning who has texted you offers an even greater release of dopamine than the reward itself.

Basic actions that are necessary for the survival of the human race, such as eating and sex, are all linked to the brain's dopamine reward mechanisms. Every motorist on the road is hardwired to respond to the pleasures associated with dopamine.

Unfortunately, the release of dopamine suppresses other important brain activities, such as those involved in reasoning and good judgment. This can make an automotive accident even more likely.

What if you've been injured by a texting driver?

If you are injured in an automotive accident due to a texting motorist, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can guide you through the process of seeking compensation for your injuries.

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