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How using your phone while driving can become addicting

Why do people persist in using their mobile phones to talk or text behind the wheel? Everyone knows it's incredibly dangerous. Nevertheless, the number of people using hand-held devices while behind the wheel grew from 1.7 percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent in 2014.

The fact is that cell phone use is literally addictive. According to CNN, the little "ping" of an incoming text signals a "reward" and causes our brains to release dopamine - a chemical that makes us feel good.

Most people aren't able to fight that addiction just because they are driving.

Isn't talking on the phone the same as talking to a passenger in the car?

Talking on a phone is not, contrary to some opinions, the same as talking to someone in the passenger seat. A passenger can often warn the driver when dangerous conditions arise. Plus, a driver is more likely to suspend a conversion when the other party is present than if he or she is in on the other end of a phone connection.

How do we train people to put away handheld devices while they're behind the wheel?

One way would be to produce and air public service announcements that show in no uncertain terms the consequences of distracted driving. Many people, especially younger drivers, have not thought through the possible implications of distracted driving. Showing them those consequences, perhaps at school or while taking a drivers' education course, can potentially make them think.

Another way to underscore the fact that phone use reduces reaction time while driving would be to put students through an exercise. They can perform some sort of action while not talking on the phone and then perform the same action while talking on the phone. The difference in reaction time should be instructive.

Unfortunately, even with all the training and education in the world, distracted driving accidents will still occur from time to time. If you were injured in such an accident, don't hesitate to contact a personal injury attorney and learn about pursuing compensation for your injuries.

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