Despite the countless PSAs and campaigns against texting while driving, the dangerous habit is still on the rise—in 2014, 2.2 percent of drivers were texting behind the wheel, compared to 1.7 percent in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. In an effort to better understand why texting and driving occurs, researchers at Penn State conducted a study looking at common characteristics among those who do it. Unsurprisingly, one particular personality trait was present among those who regularly text and drive: impulsiveness.
This was determined by researching the idea of “discounting delayed rewards”—When people have difficulty seeing the value in waiting for something, even if it is positive. For the sake of the study, participants were divided into two groups: those who regularly text and drive and those who don’t.
Participants were asked such questions as: would they rather wait for a period of time (anywhere from a week to 10 years) to receive $1000, or receive a smaller amount immediately? Those who text and drive were much more likely to choose the smaller amount and discount the delayed reward, while those who don’t text behind the wheel most often chose to wait for the larger sum.
It’s not exactly shocking that millennials, particularly ages 16-24, are much more likely to text behind the wheel than any other age group. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a particularly impulsive person, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the temptation to glance down at your phone screen when you’re behind the wheel. Though sending or reading a text takes only a moment, in 2013, 424,000 people were injured in crashes caused by distracted drivers.
Thankfully, where there’s a will, there’s a way app for that—apps like TXTShield shut down your phone’s ability to send or receive texts, and also send an auto-response to anyone trying to reach you letting them know you’re behind the wheel. If you’re losing sight of the delayed reward (which is arriving at your destination safe and sound), don’t be afraid to make use of an app like this!