Fear of Death Can Reduce Texting and Driving Among Young Drivers

Wed, 3/14/2018 - 8:49 pm by Kirsten Rincon

Texting and Driving

Young drivers are particularly prone to texting while driving. Texting and driving is the most common cause of accidents for drivers between the age of 15 and 19. Despite the fact that texting and driving is an extremely risky behavior, young drivers continue to do it. Many young people believe that they are capable of focusing on the road and driving safely, even while they are composing, reading or sending a text message. What’s more, they tend to hide it, which is even more dangerous, as trying to conceal a phone requires extra attention.

Texting and Driving Study

A study was recently conducted by a team of researches at Washington State University to improve the situation. The study shows that if young drivers are shown the horrific consequences of texting and driving, in an explicit and graphic manner, they will engage in the activity much less frequently. Researchers say that public service announcements that include graphic terms, evoking drivers’ fear of death, can discourage them from texting and driving. This study is part of the researchers’ efforts to identify young drivers’ attitude towards this practice, and determine how it can be eradicated. The Washington State survey included 357 drivers between the age of 18 and 49, and while the majority of respondents said that they consider texting and driving dangerous, 25% said that they will continue to do it, nevertheless.

Texting and Driving Findings

Washington State University marketing professors Ioannis Kareklas and Darrel Muehling led the research team, motivated by the desire to eradicate the distracted driving epidemic. They conducted research on the effectiveness of previous media campaigns against texting and driving. Their goal was to determine whether a public service announcement could help eliminate risky driver behaviors. They determined that a PSA that appeals to a driver’s emotions is much more effective than a campaign that only includes statistics and facts.

The Trial

During this study, groups of students were shown different anti texting-and-driving ads. Four PSAs were shown to four separate groups of youth. One group saw a video explaining that texting and driving is a dangerous combination, another saw a statistical message that texting and driving results in 3,000 fatal crashes a year, and a third group was shown images of skulls and crossbones, in addition to warning messages. The final PSA included images that symbolize death, along with statistics and warning messages. The final ad evoked the greatest response form the study group. The group shows the most commitment to avoiding distractions behind the wheel.

These findings will be very helpful to organizations that intend to discourage people from texting and driving. Using explicit images that remind people of the fatal consequences of this texting and driving is the best way to prevent the behaviour.

To stay safe, drivers should research the texting and driving laws in their state.