Why are Colorado drivers so addicted to using their cell phones?

Recent surveys and research suggest many drivers are psychologically addicted to texting, which explains why they may do it despite various consequences.

Although texting while driving is illegal in Colorado, this behavior remains alarmingly prevalent in Denver and other areas. According to ABC News, between the start of 2015 and July 31 of the same year, state authorities cited nearly 12,000 drivers for texting, using social media, emailing and engaging in similar distractions. The number of distracted drivers who went uncaught is likely only higher.

Given the known dangers of these habits and the potential legal consequences, the prevalence of these behaviors might seem surprising. However, ongoing research suggests that many people may be literally addicted to using their cell phones while driving.

Technological dependence

Last year, AT&T took a survey that revealed troubling attitudes toward texting and driving. According to KMGH News, of the 1,000 drivers surveyed, 98 percent agreed that texting while driving was dangerous. However, more than three-quarters stated that they did it anyway.

These drivers cited various reasons for texting while at the wheel, such as a desire to stay connected to others. About 6 percent of the drivers actually identified an "addiction" to texting as the reason that they did it so frequently. Many of the drivers also described feelings that hinted at addiction, including:

  • Fear of missing something important - this drove 28 percent of the surveyed drivers to text.
  • Anxiety about not responding to texts promptly - 14 percent of drivers experienced this emotion.
  • Satisfaction upon answering texts - this was a feeling that 17 percent of drivers reported.

According to Fox News, there is likely a biological basis for this addiction to cell phone use. Reading texts or engaging in other electronic communication can release dopamine, creating positive feelings. Abstaining from these interactions, in contrast, can create feelings of withdrawal. The unpredictable and novel nature of electronic communication can also heighten these feelings and worsen the overall addiction.

Common, reckless behaviors

More recently, another AT&T survey found that many distracted driving habits remain incredibly common. According to CBS News, over six out of 10 respondents reported texting, and one-third confessed to checking their email. As many as one in 10 people admitted to engaging in video chats. Additionally, one-third of the drivers who reported Tweeting while driving stated that they did it constantly. These behaviors may contribute to countless motor vehicle accidents.

Problematically, some drivers may even believe they aren't endangering others with these reckless behaviors. According to Fox News, many drivers report that they can safely multitask while driving. However, research shows that people who think they multitask well are usually impulsive, sensation-seeking individuals who actually perform the most poorly at multitasking. This finding underscores the threat that these drivers may pose to other motorists and road users.

Seeking recourse

Sadly, needless cell phone-related accidents may affect the lives of many Coloradans this year. Drivers who harm others while they are texting or otherwise distracted may be held liable for the associated damages. However, establishing what an at-fault driver was doing at the time of an accident can be challenging. To improve the likelihood of securing needed compensation, accident victims should consider enlisting the assistance of an auto accident attorney.