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Why responding to a text at a stoplight isn’t as safe as you think 

Texting while driving is dangerous. Still, most people, including your boss, likely expect you to be available instantaneously if they drop you a digital message. 

If you make the decision not to look down at your screen while driving, you may think that you are being as safe as possible. Picking up your phone to check that text message when you stop at a red light may seem like the perfect opportunity to catch up on your messages without endangering other people on the road. 

The truth is that your decision to pick up your phone at all will continue to affect you after you put it down again.

Screen use causes residual distraction when you drive

You probably think that as soon as you set your phone down and look forward at the street ahead of you that you no longer have any negative driving consequences caused by distraction. However, neuroscience research has shown that that is not the case.

When you engage with the screen and then go back to another activity, your focus and decision-making abilities will remain compromised even afterward. Your full focus and skill won’t return until an average of 27 seconds have passed. That means that for almost half a minute after you put your phone back down, distraction will still affect how well you control your vehicle. 

The only safe option is to completely avoid your phone until you put your car in park and turn the engine off. Making smart choices about texting while driving can help you minimize your risk of a serious crash out on the road.

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