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5 dangerous myths about distracted driving

Distracted driving persists, in part, because drivers hear repeated myths about it and buy in. They think they're being safe when they're actually putting everyone else on the road in danger.

They may realize this danger after an accident, but it's too late. The damage is done.

Perhaps a distracted driver hit you and you're wondering how anyone could have let it happen. Maybe you see distracted drivers every day during your commute, and you're nervous about a future accident. No matter the case, here are five dangerous myths to keep in mind.

1. It's safe to text if you just use the voice-to-text feature.

You get to look at the road the whole time, so it's safe, right? Wrong. Experts have found that it's incredibly distracting. A lot of common auto-correct errors pop up, which you have to fix. Plus, even a flawless message is a mental distraction as you open the app, make sure it's recording, check the recipient, think about what you're going to say and much more.

2. It's fine to use the phone at a red light.

You're not moving, so isn't that safe? It's not. A study shows that distractions don't end when the text gets sent. They can last for up to 27 more seconds. You're still thinking about the message or considering the potential response. Most red lights have long since turned green by the time the distraction fades.

3. Talking on the phone is perfectly safe.

Even hands-free systems are dangerous. The phone is still a mental distraction. It gives you tunnel vision. One study said that talking drivers missed 50 percent of what happened around them. They commonly did not see red lights and pedestrians.

4. Talking to passengers is the same as talking on the phone.

It's not. Passengers can see the road around you. They'll stop talking if you need it and they can point out hazards. Plus, you don't have to look down at the phone to answer the call and you don't have to hold it as you talk to them. Passengers can be a deadly distraction, but they are safer than phones.

5. Multitasking is real.

It isn't. Your brain can do one mental task at a time, not two. Multitasking is a myth in and of itself. All it really means is that your brain does one task, then jumps to the other, then jumps back to the first. This is very distracting and cuts into your reaction times because your brain has to switch back.

Distracted drivers cause accidents every day in Texas, and many of them think they're perfectly safe until the crash. It's important for those who get hurt to know the risks well.

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