True or False: Busting Those Myths About Distracted Driving

distracted driving myths

Although you may think you know everything you need to know about driving—hands at 10 and 2, eyes on the road, rearview mirror adjusted—there are a few things that you may want to review. In fact, as far as distracted driving is concerned, let’s bust some myths (courtesy of the National Safety Council) before you bust out of here for the summer. You’ll be happy you did.

1. True or False: Multi-tasking Is a Thing (in Driving and Life)

distracted driving phone use
SplitShire / Pexels

False! Whether you’re trying to watch TV and do homework or trying to drive and eat/dance/text, the brain can’t actually multi-task. It can go from one task to another with lightning speed, but while you’re doing one thing, like eating, you’re not focusing on the other, more important one: driving. Your reaction times slow, which can be dangerous when controlling a two-ton hunk of plastic and metal.

2. True or False: Voice-to-Text Is Okay While Driving

voice-to-text distracted driving
Roman Pohorecki / Pexels

False. Voice-to-text might seem a slightly better option than texting outright while driving, but studies suggest that it distracts the driver more than regular texting. Even talking a text takes part of your attention away from driving (it’s that inability to multi-task thing). Plus, people tend to look at their texts before sending them because voice-to-text is unreliable in its inaccuracy—saying “dirty shoe” instead of “love you” might cause confusion.

3. True or False: Hands-Free Use Is Better Than Handheld Use in the Car

Distracted Driving hands-free phone
DariuszSankowski / Pixabay

True. Sort of. If those are the only two options, then keeping your hands free for driving is better than having one on your phone. But not talking on your phone while driving is best. Drivers don’t see 50% of their driving environment while talking on the phone, regardless of how they’re using it because of distracted driving. Imagine your windshield symbolizes your driving environment. Well, when you’re on the phone, that entire windshield shrinks down to half its size so that you only see what’s in front of you. This means that a dog running into the road isn’t going to hit this smaller driving environment until it’s too late.

4. True or False: As long As You Can See While Driving, You Don’t Need to Hear

talking on phone while driving
Wikimedia Commons

False. You might think that as long as your eyes are on the road, then your ears can be on a phone call, but you’re wrong. Research shows that when you’re talking to someone else—whether or not it’s through the phone or in the same car—you experience inattention blindness. Basically, you see but don’t process the world around you. When you’re driving, this can be a costly mistake.

5. True or False: Talking on the Phone or to a Passenger Is the Same Thing

distracted driving talking on phone
Breakingpic / Pexels

False. While being distracted by any talking can be detrimental, at least a passenger can help you watch out on the road. On the other hand, your non-present phone friend just causes distracted driving. He can only help you by getting off the phone.

6. True or False: Phone Use at Traffic Stops Has No Negative Repercussions

texting at stoplight
viviandnguyen_ / Flickr

False. Even though you’re stopped and can take your concentration off of driving for a moment to send or read a text, your concentration is compromised for the next 27 seconds thinking about what your just read or sent. Usually that half a minute is long enough for you to be driving distracted again.

7. True or False: If You’re Texting While Driving, Do It Low So Nobody Can See

Texting below steering wheel
kellybdc / Flickr

False! Do not text while driving, but doing it below the steering wheel is even worse than level with it because you’re cutting off you’re peripheral vision, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. The police might not see you texting, but you can’t see anyone else.

If you’re thinking, “Great, now I can’t do anything fun while driving. I’ll probably fall asleep from boredom,” don’t worry. While doing some things, like texting and talking on the phone, cause distracted driving, not everything is on the “no go” list. For instance, listening to music is considered a category 1 level distraction (says AAA), meaning that it’s the least mentally strenuous thing to do while driving and perfectly okay. Just restrain yourself from busting out your dance moves.

Allison Weber grew up in the Great Plains of northeastern Colorado, decided to see some mountains, and went to Provo, Utah where she got her BA in English at BYU. Afterwards she did some writing and traveling, and then went to Minnesota State University for a Masters in Technical Communication. Now she freelances as a writer, works on her novel, runs regularly and travels when the mood strikes