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Why drivers can’t safely check their phones at an intersection

You glide to a stop at an intersection because the light is red or it’s a four-way stop. You look over at the vehicle in the lane next to you or across the intersection and clearly see someone typing into their phone while stopped.  

Your first reaction to that might be to think that the driver is responsible. After all, instead of texting while actively driving, they waited till they stopped their car. However, although it may not seem like a big concern, manually using a phone while stuck in traffic really isn’t that much safer than texting while driving down the road. 

Your brain doesn’t refocus right away after you text

Someone at an intersection will have to glance back and forth between their phone and either the nearby traffic or the lights at the intersection. When they reach the front of the line or the light changes, they set their phone down and drive.  

It seems like a practical and efficient way to handle mobile phone use while driving. Unfortunately, your brain doesn’t have the ability to shift gears that quickly. Research looking into how the human brain responds to phone use makes it clear that messaging and texting at intersections is not safe.  

Your brain will remain distracted and will not fully focus on the task of driving for about 27 seconds after you set your phone down. That’s nearly half a minute of driving, possibly at high speeds or in heavy traffic. Simply put, drivers will still be distracted even after they stop using their phones, making intersections an unsafe place to read or respond to text messages or emails. 

Negligent behavior at the wheel can lead to major claims

Someone who insists on checking their phone while driving puts everyone else at unnecessary risk. Even if they aren’t as negligent and dangerous as people who text while speeding down the road, they still put others at unnecessary risk.   

Understanding how distraction affects the human brain can help you make better decisions for your own safety. It can also help you properly respond to a crash caused by a driver who had previously had their phone in their hands.  

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