By this point, everyone knows that you shouldn’t use a phone while driving, even if we don’t all follow this rule every time.
But did you know that your phone isn’t the most dangerous thing in your car? Your friends and family are.
Chit chat is riskier than texting
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, cellphones aren’t the leading cause of distracted driving car accidents. In fact, a cellphone was implicated in only 12 percent of distracted driving crashes.
Instead, conversations with passengers are more often to blame. Talking with a passenger was cited as a cause in 57 percent of all distraction-related collisions.
Still, keep your phone put away
Of course, you shouldn’t read this data to mean that cellphones don’t matter. They do. Texting, entering an address into Google Maps and pulling up a new song on Spotify are all very dangerous things to do while driving.
If you need to use your phone, pull over or wait until you have arrived at your destination.
Save big conversations for when you can focus
Really, what this data shows is that dangerous distractions can feel like routine, everyday occurrences. We don’t notice the hazard until after something bad happens.
Think about it: how many times have you used a car ride as an opportunity to connect with friends or family? We’re all so busy, and sometimes a car ride is the only time we’ve got to check in.
No one is suggesting that everyone should stay silent while driving. But if the conversation is bound to be stressful – like a fight with your spouse or a talk with your child about a bad grade – save it for later. The same thing goes for conversations that are exciting and engaging. If it’s going to take your focus off the road, even for a few seconds, it is best to wait until you’re done driving.
You’ll be safer for waiting, as will your loved ones and everyone else on the road.