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Stateside: When the phones endanger the roads

Texting while driving
C. Todd Lopez
Photo courtesy of U.S. Army
It's illegal to text or talk on the phone while driving in Troy, MI

You may want to rethink those seemingly innocent glances at your phone while driving.

Distracted driving continues to be a problem for many of those on the road today.

NPR's Sonari Glinton discussed the relationship many drivers have with their phones and how one’s urge to stay connected should not consume one’s commute.

According to Glinton, connectivity is rooted in our culture.

“In our jobs we want to be responsive. There is the desire to stay connected,” said Glinton.

Dr. Paul Green, a research professor at U of M’s Driver Interface Group, says that our constant phone-checking does not lead to better efficiency.

“If you’re constantly tethered to your text messages, your productivity suffers,” said Green.

Still, some believe that if they can send an email or text while on the road, they will somehow be bettering their work output for the day.

“There is this pressure to do more and to do it faster. There is this perception that driving is wasted time and therefore let’s do something in addition to driving,” said Green.

Both Green and Glinton agreed that phone activity while stalled at a red light is potentially hazardous; as something of interest may have occurred while the driver is engaged with their phone.

However, distracted driving has yet to receive the cultural condemnation that driving while intoxicated has, and for this reason it persists.

“We haven’t gotten to that point where we say, ‘This is wrong,’” said Glinton.

Glinton recommended that people make their phone calls before entering their vehicles.

Then the challenge of prying one’s eyes off the phone begins.

-Cameron Stewart

There are two ways you can podcast "Stateside with Cynthia Canty"

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