Is Texting and Driving an Actual Addiction?


We have all heard the rationalizations, “I couldn’t help myself,” “I just had to check my email,” “This text could be really important.” In a recent study 98% of all drivers polled said they knew Texting and Driving was wrong, but 92% admitted to doing it. Why are people doing that which they say is wrong? Could it be that they are addicted?

That is one of the reasons AT&T commissioned research in 2014 by an addiction expert, Dr. David Greenfield. Dr. Greenfield stated that using a phone sets off releases of a neurochemical called dopamine that makes it hard to resist the ping. “If that desire for a dopamine fix leads us to check our phones while we’re driving, a simple text can turn deadly,” David Greenfield, who founded the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, said in the AT&T news release.
According to Dr. Greenfield in his paper on Distracted Driving, “Dopamine a ‘digital drug’ because we get a little squirt of it every time we get positive news from a friend or loved one by text, email or social media. Our brain is conditioned to seek that positive ‘hit’, leading many of us to check for messages compulsively.”

The lure of dopamine creates problems, potentially deadly problems – when a person gets a message on their phone while they are driving.

A survey commissioned by The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction and AT&T found that three-in-four people admit to glancing at their phones while driving, and 30 percent say they do so because it is a habit.
While most people know that texting while driving is dangerous, many rationalize their texting-and-driving behavior – a classic sign of addiction. Only 6% of people surveyed feel they are addicted.
In a CNN special, Dr. Greenfield was interviewed and stated, “The science behind why you can’t put down your phone, and respond to the ding of a text message or other notification is a ‘compulsion,’ and most people can’t help themselves.”
A notification on a smartphone affects the brain with a hit of dopamine, Greenfield said. It impacts “the same centers that have to do with eating, with sex and procreation, with drugs and alcohol.”

Asking people to take a pledge and white-knuckle through the additive qualities of texting and driving is to assume people have great self-control. The technological solutions of FleetMode and other apps that truly takes the option of texting and driving out of your hands, may be the addiction more people need to get. Make it a habit to download anti-texting technology.