How a texting ‘hangover effect’ can cause serious crashes

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2024 | Car Accidents |

Public awareness about the dangers of distracted driving is at an all-time high. Between updates to driver’s education programs and public education campaigns, most people understand how risky it can be to read or respond to a text message while operating a motor vehicle.

Despite that awareness, many drivers are still eager to find any viable way of using their phones while at the wheel. One of the more common workarounds that people employ when driving is to text at an intersection when they stop at a red light. People think that doing so is safe, as they can send the text before the light changes and they proceed through the intersection. They may not understand that they may have a texting hangover that lasts after they look up from their phone.

Distraction lasts after sending a text

Researchers have carefully analyzed how people handle the distraction of using a mobile device while driving. What they found is certainly cause for concern. The so-called texting hangover affects someone’s ability to focus and make the right decisions quickly when in traffic. Someone’s focus and cognitive ability remain diminished for approximately 27 seconds after they stop intentionally prioritizing a mobile device.

In other words, someone could potentially drive almost half a mile down the road with a 55 mile-per-hour speed limit before the cognitive deficit caused by mobile phone use ends. Given that many collisions occur right at intersections, that persistent deficit is cause for concern.

Drivers cannot assume that they can drive safely if they send or read a text at an intersection. Instead, they need to avoid handling their phones at all until they reach their destination. If someone pulls off onto the shoulder to respond to a text message or email that is urgent, they should give themselves at least half a minute after finishing their electronic communications before they attempt to merge back into traffic.

Unfortunately, distracted driving continues to cause crashes, and motorists are often loath to take responsibility for their mistakes. Someone injured by a distracted driver may need to take legal action if they hope to secure compensation for their losses.