Addiction Research Shows Texting While Driving Maybe – “Out of Our Hands”

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Image source: http://themitrafirm.com/

BY MALIAKA BRYCE

Drivers engaged in text messaging on a cell phone are twenty three times more likely to be involved in a crash or near-crash event compared with non-distracted drivers. Texting and driving is now a major national issue in Canada and is considered as dangerous as drinking and driving.

However, new research by Dr. David Greenfield, founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction at the University of Connecticut (YES, there is a center for that) shows the impulse to text while driving could be out of our hands. “In essence, it’s a drug, or what I call a digital drug,” said Greenfield. He worked with AT&T on the survey and believes people get a high from using their cellphone behind the wheel similar to playing a slot machine.

Apparently checking how many “likes” you received on the “It’s my birthday today!!” post you put up this morning actually elevates your level of dopamine, the pleasure chemical in your brain, and in turn increases the probability that you can’t stop yourself from going online to check your post again and again throughout the day to get your high from the seventeen red Instagram hearts beside your picture. ohhh, wait that’s eighteen!!!. They like me, they really like me.

OK, so the good new is I’m not the huge jerk I thought I was for endangering people’s lives with my distracted driving … the bad news… I might be a hard-wired cellphone addict suffering from Nomophobia – the fear of being out of mobile phone, and I may need rehab. Well, that’s just GRRrrreaatttttt. “They try to make me go to rehab but I said no, No, No – too soon?  Sorry.  

The point is, Canadians could have a real problem and we are not alone. According to the Pew Research Center, 67% of smartphone owners have admitted to checking their phone for calls or messages when their phone DIDN’T even vibrate or ring.

If we are honest with ourselves, (which I try to do once a week on Wednesdays) we would have to admit that we have all heard the beep and took a peek knowing full well of the major consciences associated with our actions. In Ontario, checking Bae’ “Sooo, what u doing?” text could cost you up to $1000 and three demerit points. We even have text messages flashing on our highway billboards with that ridiculously odd looking cell phone with a thick line running through it to remind use to stay focused while driving and still phone use while driving is a growing trend that has road cops in rage.

On many occasions, I have gotten into my car and committed to not looking at my phone until I have arrived at my destination. Without fail after five minutes of driving my phone will go off. I’m strong and steadfast at first… I say to myself focus on the road, it’s snowing and dangerous … who ever it is they can wait”. Then two minutes later it rings again, “ughhhhh, WhatTTT do you want” I scream, secretly pleased that they called twice. By the third ring, I start to rationalize my actions “Oh I better answer it …could be the kids ….with guilt, shame and frustration I begin the hunt for my device by digging into the abyss of my bag to retrieve what is sadly my most valued possession.

After swerving to avoid the crazy dude in front of me who stopped on the yellow light..who stops on yellow!!  I finally answer the call. Hello, this is Maliaka speaking how can I help you…The pre-recorded message starts by saying “Congratulations! you’ve have been randomly selected to win a free trip to Iceland. SERIOUSLY I almost killed three people Sunwing. Thanks!!

I saw a meme the other day that asked, “If your home was burning down and you could only save one thing what would you save?” Without hesitation, I wrote, my phone of course….Ohhhh and the charger which I quickly added should technically be considered as one item. My BFF commented, but Maliaka what about the kids?

I responded, “Of course I would go save them – as long as I have my phone… I can call them from outside” I would even leave a voicemail if I had to. We both laughed.     

But seriously, cell phone addiction is real and crashing your car is only one of the negative side effects. It’s also been linked to depression, anxiety, poor work performance just to name a few.

I have started my twelve-step plan by locking my phone in my trunk when I’m driving. I’ve only pulled over on the highway twice so far to check it..  

For more information on distracted driving and cellphone addiction please search the behavioural disorders center in your area.  

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