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Why Do People Check Their Phones Behind The Wheel?

November 14, 2019
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Imagine that you are driving down I-10 after a long day at work. All of a sudden, you hear a familiar sound -- your phone alerting you to a new text, email, or some other notification. You have your hands on the wheel, but your brain starts to wonder what the notification is about.

Maybe one of your Instagram followers liked a post, or maybe your babysitter has some news for you about your child. The temptation to check your phone is real and slowly building. Pretty soon, you may find yourself reaching for your phone while driving.

It may sound silly. We know deep down that it’s unsafe to check your phone behind the wheel, but many people still do it every day. Researchers claim it’s just a part of the way the brain functions.

How the Human Mind Works

Why Do People Check Their Phones Behind The Wheel?Our smartphones have trained us to have an association with a phone notification and the reward sector of our brain. Maybe a message from a friend inviting you to a party. The case is very similar to that of Pavlov’s dog -- you hear the ping of the phone, which triggers a reflex in our limbic system. A shot of dopamine activates the reward center of our brain, and we anticipate something positive to take place.

Dopamine enhances our innate feelings of arousal and anticipation. It also prevents the pre-frontal cortex from acting normally -- this is the part of the brain that controls planning and decision making. This ultimately will impact our about to make sound judgments and could result in us wanting to look at our phone while driving.

Consequences

We have discussed many laws concerning distracted driving in New Mexico. These laws make it illegal to view or send texts, messages, or emails while operating a motor vehicle. We have also examined New Mexico’s comparative negligence law, which claims that if another driver caused you to be involved in a crash, you could lose a portion of your compensation if you were partially at fault. Essentially, if you were checking your phone at the time of the crash, you could be seen as being somewhat at fault and lose out when pursuing a personal injury claim.

A Possible Solution

We are unable to control the reactions of the limbic system. This means that the best way to avoid being distracted by a smartphone while on the road is to keep the phone turned off -- or at least silent -- whenever you are operating a motor vehicle. You will be better able to focus on the task of driving, keeping yourself and others safe on the road.

Texting & Driving Crashes in Albuquerque

There are many reasons a car crash can happen. Many of the primary factors are completely avoidable actions, like texting while driving. The growing popularity of smartphones has greatly increased traffic fatalities in the United States. 

There are more than 1.6 million car crashes involving texting and driving each year. It is believed that every 1 in 4 collisions is caused by a driver who is texting behind the wheel. Victims of these collisions should contact an Albuquerque car crash lawyer to protect their legal rights.

The legal team at Will Ferguson & Associates can help you bring a reckless driver to justice. We have a proven track record and have helped countless other victims recover their deserved compensation. Contact us today at (505) 243-5566 if you have been injured by a texting driver.

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