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Texting behind the wheel: Don’t do it

Parents of teenagers often worry about mistakes their kids will make out on the road. Choosing to talk to friends or post on social media while at the wheel can result in tragedy. Other drivers tend to be especially wary of youthful drivers on the road, worried about the potential for distracted driving.

However, it isn't just teenagers who are at risk for distracted driving and resulting crashes. Anyone with a mobile phone can end up feeling like they need to check their messages at the wheel. It's important that you understand that adults incur just as much risk by driving and texting.

Just because you have more practice driving does not mean you can safely text while you drive. It is important to understand that any driver who uses a phone at the wheel is putting themselves and everyone else at risk of a major crash by doing so.

Age and skill don't matter when your eyes are focused elsewhere

It is true that teen drivers are more susceptible to silly mistakes due to a lack of practice. As an adult driver, you have years of knowledge to draw from every time you hit the road. However, that experience won't do you much good if you don't have your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, taking your eyes off the road to text while you drive can leave you very vulnerable. At a speed of 55 miles an hour, five seconds of looking down at your phone means traveling about the length of a football field.

It's very easy to imagine how traveling that far without seeing what's in front of you could lead to an otherwise preventable crash. No matter how skilled of a driver you are, failing to watch the road and hold the wheel puts you at risk.

Even when you look back up, you may not be fully focused on the road

One thing people don't really understand is that distraction is more than where your eyes are looking. Distraction is also how you focus your mental attention. You can be looking straight forward and be totally distracted on the inside.

When you take the time on the road to read text messages and send them to others, you run the risk of becoming so distracted that you fail to respond properly to stopping vehicles or notice things in time on the road.

Regardless of your age or how safe your driving record may be, your best option is always to leave your phone in the back seat or the trunk when you're driving. That way, you won't even feel tempted to try to pick it up if you hear a message come in.

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