People know distracted driving is dangerous, but they don't care

Have you ever tried to send a text message while driving, only to have your attention pulled back to the highway when your car hit the gravel on the shoulder of the road?

Maybe it got your attention. You didn't hit anything -- like a cyclist or another vehicle -- but you realized what type of danger you put yourself in. You felt like you just looked down for a second or two, but it was long enough to drive all the way out of your lane.

Understanding the danger

The reality is that people know about these dangers. You're not alone in your experience. When asked if distracted driving was a "very serious threat" to safety on the road, a full 81 percent of drivers said that it was. They get it. They know how fast accidents can happen.

So why do they keep occurring? If the vast majority of people on the road understand the risk, why don't they stop?

Texting anyway

After all, the statistics show that drivers are more than happy to text anyway. When young drivers -- ranging from 19 years old to 24 years old -- were asked if they would read email messages or text messages while driving, a full 66 percent said that they had done so recently. They'd done it in just the past month. Odds are an even higher percentage had done it in the last year.

Young drivers are not alone here, despite the bad reputation they have for smartphone addiction and distracted driving. One study asked thousands of drivers about texting and driving, spanning all age groups, and still found that over 40 percent would get their phones out behind the wheel for various purposes. These reasons could include making calls, using the GPS or streaming music. When asked specifically about sending text messages, the percentage fell to 33 percent.

The real problem

Yes, distracted driving is a problem. It leads to accidents. It takes lives. People are not joking when they say it can be worse than drunk driving, that it is the new epidemic in the United States.

But the real problem seems to be that people simply refuse to change their habits in the face of clear dangers and risks. They continue to think they can use phones safely and avoid accidents. No one ever really thinks that it will happen to them -- at least until it does.

Unless that mindset changes, it is going to prove hard to fight back against this epidemic. If you get injured in an accident with a distracted driver, make sure you understand your rights to financial compensation.

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