At this point, most drivers understand how dangerous texting while driving can be. However, they know that they’re not going to stay off of the phone entirely. Instead, many drivers will wait until they hit a red light to use their phones. Checking social media notifications or text messages at a stop light may seem harmless, but is it? No, not really.
Your brain can stay distracted longer than you probably realize
Because of technology, it’s become harder for people to put down their phones. Many apps and pieces of information created for smartphones are intended to be habit-forming, encouraging users to check them frequently.
As a result, drivers may find it more difficult to resist replying to a text message or updating their social media while waiting at a stop light. It may even feel safe to do because the car isn’t moving.
However, texting while at a red light is dangerous, and it is advisable for drivers to avoid doing so. It may be hard to tell, but the brain can remain distracted for the next 27 seconds, on average, after completing a distracting task like using a phone.
Yes, putting the phone down may reduce both the physical and visual distractions that come with looking at a screen, but the brain does not just return to driving mode after. The cognitive distraction can last for around half a minute.
This means that drivers could make serious mistakes and cause crashes even after putting away their phones because their brains are still focused on the digital interactions they’ve just had instead of on driving safely.
What you can do
The problem of distracted driving persists, but it becomes harder to address when some drivers don’t realize that what they’re doing is just as problematic. Texting at a red light is not worth the risk of crashing into another driver. To avoid distraction, drivers can wait to use their phones until they get to their destination.