texting while driving

With hundreds of texts, social media notifications, and work emails coming through our smartphones each day, even the most experienced driver can be tempted to respond while on the road. But for those struggling to control their social media use, driving can be incredibly dangerous – fatal even. 

What is a Social Media Addiction? 

In 2021, 233 million Americans used social media, according to a study conducted by The Infinite Dial. Although many of those Americans use social media in normal, constructive ways, there are some that struggle to control their phone and social media usage. 

Although social media addiction is such a new concept, psychologists estimate that 5%- 10% of America’ population are struggling with this issue. This addiction is defined as being overly concerned with their social media platforms, combined with a compulsion to spend an incredible amount of time and energy on social media. Unfortunately, for those having an issue controlling their social media usage, driving safely and free of distraction can be even more difficult. 

Distracted Driving and Social Media 

The team of car accident lawyers at Harting Simkins & Ryan LLP say that California has some of the nation’s toughest driving laws when it comes to mobile device use. This means that holding a phone in your hand for whatever reason will result in a traffic law violation.

These precautions are for good reason, since distracted driving contributes to so many deaths annually. The CDC reports that in 2019, 3,142 people died as a result of distracted driving related accidents. 

Types of Distracted Driving 

There are three main types of distracted driving, and you can learn more about them here, but as a quick recap: 

  1. Visual: any time you take your eyes off the road, this means checking your phone, or looking away from the road for any sustained amount of time. 
  2. Manual: any time you take your hands off of the wheel. Examples of this would be reaching for something that has fallen down, or in certain cases, eating while driving can be categorized as being manually distracted. 
  3. Cognitive: any time you take your mind off of the road. This could be daydreaming, thinking of other activities in the day, arguing with a passenger in the car, anything that distracts you mentally. 

Social media use while driving is especially dangerous because it uniquely blends all three types of distractions. The Venn Diagram below shows the connection: 

how social media use distracts drivers

Safety Tips

Here are some quick safety tips that can help you avoid a distracted-driving related crash.

  1. Turn on the ‘Driving Focus’ setting: most smartphones today are equipped with settings that will not allow your phone to receive notifications while driving, activate these to stay safe on the road. 
  2. Put your phone in a glove box: if having your phone close by during a drive is too much temptation, simply put it in the glove box for the duration of the ride.
  3. If you are 18+, connect your smartphone with your car’s Bluetooth technology: by utilizing these services, you stay hands free, which reduces the visual and manual distractions, but still beware of cognitive distractions.

The team at Safer America hopes that this article helps you avoid social media use while driving, in order to be safe on the road. Please feel free to share this article with any avid social media user you know.