Most people agree that driving while distracted is a highly dangerous practice. However, many of the same people who make these statements continue to partake in dangerous driving behaviors, despite their acceptance that they can lead to devastating accidents. Travelers.com looks into the science behind this disparity to determine why so many motorists put their lives and lives of others at risk when behind the wheel.
When polled, 26% of drivers in one survey admitted that they did engage in distracted driving behaviors when they deemed it safe to do so. There are a number of proposed reasons why drivers believe that they are capable of indulging in distractions without being faced with the same risk of crashes and injuries as other drivers. Recency bias is one principle that may impact driver behavior. This phenomenon refers to the notion that after numerous times succumbing to driving distractions, one may feel immune from being involved in an accident.
The sheer magnitude of people who drive while distracted also has an impact on motorist behaviors. When a person sees other people texting while driving or eating behind the wheel, the behavior becomes normalized and more socially acceptable as a result. At the opposite end of the spectrum, most people overestimate their own driving abilities. This leads to the belief that they alone can be trusted to text and drive, while others should refrain from the behavior.
The pull of electronic devices is also strong, especially when receiving messages from loved ones. Electronic devices have also caused people to be more susceptible to immediate gratification. While in the past it was completely natural to wait hours before responding to others, these days you can reply back to loved ones immediately. The positive effects of immediate reply often outweigh the risk of being involved in an accident, even when that risk carries significant consequences.