Texting and Driving: Behavior and attitude gap on multi-tasking

Why is it hard for people to sit down and focus on completing one task at a time? I’ll admit everyone is guilty of multi-tasking, including myself, but it has become almost impossible for individuals to be attentive to one single task.

With the changing nature of technology, people have a wide array of distraction methods to choose from. The abundance of technology also allows for an easier life; however, it creates a need for constant and urgent connectivity. While it makes people’s jobs easy to execute, it leads to numerous problems because it enables individuals, especially young adults, to abuse this vast availability. Subsequently, when people attempt to multi-task on the road, it results in fatal incidents.

Texting is one of many innovations to blame for accidents on the road. Among all other driving distractions such as, answering a phone call, eating, or even changing the radio station, texting has become the deadliest. It is no surprise that today’s millennials are chained to their devices. Evidently, some have fallen victim to fatal accidents because they believe they could successfully execute different tasks simultaneously. There is a common myth that multi-tasking can be successfully achieved, but that is a false belief held by many. So, what is multi-tasking exactly?

The health Research Funding Organization reports, “teen drivers who will text while driving will spend a total of 10% of their driving time not positioned properly in their assigned lane. (HRfnd)” This might explain why there are so many death and injuries caused by distracted driving, particularly texting. In fact, texting and driving has gotten worse over the past few years. It kills and injures countless people annually. The National Safety Council reports that “nearly 330,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving. 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving. (Edgarsynder)”


People realize the harmful effects of distracted driving; yet, their actions point elsewhere. This might be due to a sense of invincibility or superiority over others’ abilities to control dangerous situations. They believe they can do better than the person that got into an accident. Moreover, most people have become compulsive about texting; therefore, if their phone buzzes, they instinctively  answer it disregarding the importance of other tasks they were doing previously.

“Every time they get an update through social media, through email, through text, they experience an elevation of dopamine,” which is “experienced as a form of pleasure,” Dr. David Greenfield,assistant clinical professor of psychiatry, discussed in a collaborative video by The center for internet and technology addiction and AT&T. Likewise, this drug-like effect gives an adrenaline rush and allows people to become habituated to it. It creates a problem when their compulsiveness clashes with other activities— particularly driving.

The video below thoroughly explains the problem.

In radio interview, Clifford Nass, professor of communication at Stanford University, discusses the myth of multi-tasking. He claims,”People who chronically multi-task show an enormous range of deficit, they are basically terrible at all sorts of cognitive task including multi-tasking… People who multi-task all the time can’t manage a working memory, they are chronically distracted, they initiate much larger parts of their brain that are irrelevant to the task at hand and they are even terrible at multi-tasking,… they are pretty much mental wreck… they actually think they are more productive.” In the provided podcast, they elaborate on researches done on multi-tasking. They continue to report, “what we found is when people are driving and talking on the phone or texting, that task becomes what we call the primary task, the thing their brain focuses on. And driving becomes the sort of secondary.” Likewise, when people focus on texting, they divert their attention away from the road— potentially causing an accident.

In their scholarly article, Dr. Kinnear, senior psychologist of human behavior and Dr. Stevens, Chief scientist in human interactions assert, “If you do more than one thing at the same time, your performance suffers as you struggle to divide your attention.Split attention can be detrimental to the quality and accuracy of your performance on either task. (Kinnear and Stevens 8)” When we steal time from one task to complete another task, we reduce the quality of both and increase the amount of time it takes to complete both tasks simultaneously.

The video below shows more on this growing concern of teens multi-tasking.

So how do we get people to comprehend that multi-tasking is not only inefficient but also that it can become dangerous?

First, people need to acknowledge multi-tasking is unmanageable. Moreover, if they are certain they will compulsively  reply to an incoming text notification, they need to take precautions and either turn off their phones or remind the other parties that they will be driving. If an accident has not occurred to you, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future. It also does not mean that you are invincible or indestructible. Dangerous situations can occur to anyone regardless of how good you think you are at juggling multiple  jobs concurrently.

Video Adaptation:


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