We’ve all seen them, or maybe we know them, or maybe we ARE them: People who text and drive.
According to the latest information (a 2018 report on Teensafe), 25 percent of all fatal crashes involved distracted drivers. Why, after all of the news articles, billboards and commercials about the dangers of texting and driving, do some drivers still pay more attention to their phones than they do the road?? One of the main culprits is something called confirmation bias.
What is confirmation bias?
Confirmation bias happens mostly because we really want something to be true. So we look for evidence to confirm this. Drivers know that texting and driving is very dangerous and that it puts everyone on the road at risk.
But they do it anyway because each time they text and drive and don’t get in an accident this confirms their bias that it’s not really that dangerous. They may tell themselves that they are careful when they do it, or even that they have special skills that allow them to pay attention to two things at the exact same time (there are only about 2 percent of us who are “supertaskers” and can effectively shift between two tasks. This means 98 percent of drivers can’t do it).
Drivers who text and drive are able to convince themselves it’s safe, despite all evidence to the contrary, and even the hard fact that in 2015 alone 3,477 people were killed and nearly 391,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes caused by distracted drivers.
Why do people still text and drive?
Even though study after study confirms that texting while driving is more dangerous than drunk driving, part of the issue, says Harvard public health researcher and school dean Jay Winsten, is that there is a stigma surrounding drunk driving, but there is not the same shame attached to texting and driving. That is, not until it’s too late.