In Thursday's Healthier Me, it's one of the most dangerous things you can do: texting while driving. A third of US drivers do it frequently.
Mom can't always be in the backseat, reminding teenagers to keep their eyes on the road and their hands off the cell phone. It turns out, adult drivers are also easily distracted; a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that 1 in 3 drivers texts while driving, and a majority talk on their cell phones.
CDC principal deputy director Dr. Ileana Arias: "Not only is the problem severe, it's not going away, and in fact if anything it's becoming a little bit worse over time."
Meanwhile, it appears those who drive on the left are doing more of the right thing. The CDC report found just 21% of drivers in the UK talk on their cell phones while on the road, compared to 69% of US drivers. Texting while driving is also significantly lower in Europe. Car makers worldwide now offer hands-free telephone systems like Bluetooth.
It's unclear whether the reasons for the differences lie in policies or culture or both.
Edmunds.com consumer advice editor Carroll Lachnit: "Others systems go a little further, enabling the driver to block incoming calls or provide automated responses to incoming calls and incoming texts."
Even when hands and eyes are technically where they're supposed to be, the mind can easily drift elsewhere when driving while talking on a cell phone.
Dr. Arias: "We all kid ourselves into thinking we're incredibly good multitaskers, and the data essentially suggest that multitasking is not as effective as people think that it is."
Experts say the most effective way to stay safe while driving is to declare the car a "no phone zone." To learn more about preventing texting behind the wheel, visit distraction.gov.