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Men May Underestimate The Danger of Driving And Texting

Several studies have confirmed a phenomenon known as illusory superiority. That is the phenomenon that causes relatively high percentages of people to identify themselves as above average. In terms of driving, roughly 80 percent of people consider themselves to be above average drivers. Some studies have gone so far as to suggest that the less competent the person, the more likely they are to overrate their abilities. Those who cause car accidents may be among the most confident in their driving abilities.

A recent study found that 80 percent of college students texted while driving. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of the people who admitted to texting and driving believed that they were better at the dangerous behavior than other drivers. This belief was particularly prevalent among men. While there was little to no difference in the percentage of females and males who texted while driving, men were far more likely to fail to appreciate the danger inherent in the behavior.

The percentage of people who can perform more than one task at a time and be effective doing so is miniscule. Less than 3 percent of the population demonstrates that ability. Given that driving involves roughly 200 decisions per mile traveled, the idea that a driver who is texting can make those decisions properly is simply wrong. Texting while driving has been found to slow reaction times substantially. It is not a safe practice.

The authors of the study suggested that the many laws passed to ban texting and driving seem to have had a minimal impact on people's behavior. Identifying the irrational confidence held by many that they are able to text and drive better than other drivers may help expose the problem. People do not yet truly appreciate how dangerous distracted driving can be.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Males downplay risk of texting and driving, study says," by Monte Morin, 11 October 2013

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