Phone Addiction Problem and Driving

Texting While Driving

Nowadays, texting while driving problem bothers many people because it leads to numerous terrible accidences. It is widespread especially among teens due to their phone addiction. The paper explores the death rates concerning the accidences that happen because of phone distraction. Moreover, it is aimed not only to explain the problem definition and provide statistical data but also show the nature of the issue. The work concentrates on handling texting while driving problem due to Cialdini`s principles. One of them has been applied to it. Hence, the paper describes how the mentioned issue can be reduced due to the commitment and consistency principle. It also explains how to handle the problem with the help of online pledge strategy, the main goal of which is to make people take the decisions publicly and, thus, persuade individuals to follow them. Therefore, the paper highlights the texting while driving problem and provides its solution due to the consistency and commitment strategy.


Nowadays, texting while driving problem is one of the main reasons of car crashes, many of which end lethally. A bright example can be the case when the photo of unfinished message on the phone was widespread across the mass media. The driver who was killed in the car crash the next moment he sent the tragic text. The victim was the 22-year old student of the University of Northern Colorado Alexander Heit. He had been typing a reply on his iPhone when his car got into the oncoming traffic. Therefore, before Heit finished typing the message, his car turned onto the wrong side of the road. The driver realized his mistake and tried to turn his car into the right position. However, he lost control of the vehicle, and it veered off the road, flipping and rolling until it stopped. In the result, Heit did not survive this crash and died in a hospital soon. His parents stated that they hope this tragedy would keep other drivers from getting into similar crashes (Moran).

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That message was not important enough to lose the own life. It is one of many examples of accidents that are happening currently. Therefore, people can die only because the messages or emails distract them. This problem is called texting while driving. In recent years, the number of deaths and accidents related to texting while driving has seriously increased. More than anyone, the teenagers suffer from this problem. The reason is that they are the most dependent on phones and texting part of society. There were made many attempts to promote safe driving starting from the laws implementation and ending by volunteer programs. However, this problem remains unsolved. The situation can be changed due to the use of Cialdini`s strategies. Therefore, this paper is focused on the texting while driving problem and its solution through the Cialdini’s persuasion principles.


Texting while driving can be defined as an act of reading, sending, and composing of emails as well as text messages or using of websites on a mobile phone while driving a motor vehicle (Sherin). It is considered extremely dangerous action by most people, including the authorities. Therefore, in certain places, such operations are restricted or outlawed. In general, there are three major driver distraction categories: cognitive, manual, and visual (Sherin). For example, the process of navigation system reading can be considered visual distraction because it requires attention from the driver. The manual distraction can be the eating process since due to it an individual takes his/her hands off the wheel. The cognitive distraction is when a driver, for example, is talking to passengers. (Sherin). The main problem is that texting while driving involves all of these three distraction types, which seriously increase security risk.

According to the statistical data of police reports, from 2007 to 2010, seventeen percent of crashes were results of the distraction factors (Schick). Hence, according to these reports, in 2012, 3,328 people died in crashes that involved distracted drivers. In addition, 421,000 individuals were injured in the motor vehicle crashes because of the distracted drivers (Schick). In 2012, around 10% of reported fatal crashes happened because of the distraction affection. Nearly 10% of drivers involved in the crashes mentioned above were from 15 to 19 years old (Schick). The distraction category factors can include speeding, alcohol use, and other components. However, in 2010, around 21% of all crashes happened because of phone involvement while texting while driving caused minimum 3% of motor vehicle accidents (National Safety Council).

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The main problem is that today multitasking is valued in modern culture, and due to this belief a person during driving is simply tempted to use phone, notwithstanding the fact that it is forbidden. Very often, people believe that they are able to fulfill two tasks at the same time. Therefore, they think that they can complete phone conversations or send texts while driving their cars without getting into accidents. However, it is wrong since people cannot multitask, and they are not able to perform more than one task with the required effectiveness and concentration (National Safety Council). The main point is that human brain cannot work with several goals simultaneously since it handles tasks sequentially, switching between them. Brain can handle tasks rapidly, which makes people believe that they are doing several things at the same time. In fact, it handles only one task but it switches the attention between actions too fast, which, in the end, leads to the worse performance. During this switching, the brain has to select the information it has to attend to, process, encode it, which means the memory creation, and store it (National Safety Council). In addition, the brain has to continue to perform two more cognitive functions before it can pursue the saved information.

First, the brain has to retrieve stored data and then react to it (National Safety Council). Therefore, when the brain is overloaded, all these stages are seriously affected. The most affected one is the encoding phase since it focuses on the information selection process. The attention capacity is limited, and when there is too much data, the brain is confused about the fact of which information has to be selected for the encoding (National Safety Council). The idea is that a person who is talking on phone or texting while driving gets into the situation when the brain must divide attention. The latter is simply overloaded with all the information and to handle it, it stops storing and encoding data. Certain facts are being prioritized while some of them are being filtrated (National Safety Council). Thus, a driver can be unaware, which critical information was filtrated. Therefore, it puts the driver in a potentially dangerous situation. For this reason, people who are texting while driving miss crucial warnings about safety and navigation and get into accidents.

Strategy to Solve Problem

One of the strategies that can be used to solve the texting while driving problem is about commitment and consistency. It is a great method that can help to persuade person to take the right decision gradually. The main point is that once an individual is persuaded to take a small step, the more willing he or she will be to provide the larger decision (Cialdini). Therefore, people want to express consistent behavior. If they verbally and publicly agree to something, the more chances that they will follow their decisions consistently appear. If people models, beliefs, actions, and values are not fully in agreement with one another, they can start feeling cognitive dissonance tension. However, the commitment and consistency principle has great influence on them and force, due to which people can even change their beliefs to justify own actions (Cialdini). It is also critical for person to feel that he/she has made a choice freely. If people feel that they are obligated to do something, they can explain their choices by stating that they are forced to make certain decisions. However, when they believe that they have made free choices, they feel personal responsibility for taken options and seek how to justify them.

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Cialdini states that it is highly effective principle. As an example, he represents the research of two Canadian psychologists, Inkster and Knox. They decided to study people at the racetracks and noticed that right after placing bets, the individuals behave themselves more confident about their horses’ chances of winning than they did before that action (Cialdini). It is important to note that the horses’ chances did not change but in those bettors’ minds, their perspectives improved dramatically after the tickets buying. The reason for that significant change is connected with social influence, which is a common weapon and has quiet power.

It can be realized that people desire to be consistent with what they have already done. When a person makes a decision or takes a position, he/she encounters interpersonal and personal pressures aimed to make him/her behave and act consistently with that commitment (Cialdini). These pressures force people to respond in ways that justify their previous decisions. Thus, they simply convince themselves that they have made right choices and, without any doubts, feel better about their solutions. Hence, this powerful knowledge can be used effectively for the solving of texting while driving problem.

Moscovici’s research is another evidence that can prove this statement. He decided to prove that the minority can change the behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes of the majority due to the consistency (Moscovici & Zavalloni, 1969). The most famous research bases on the question about consistent minority ability to make the majority provide the wrong answer in the color perception task. In this experiment, 172 females that had to identify the color participated. The participants were divided into groups and shown 36 slides with different shades of blue. Therefore, they had to say loudly the color of each picture (Moscovici & Zavalloni, 1969). In the consistent conditions, two of six participants were asked to say that all the slides were green while in the inconsistent conditions they had to answer that 12 slides were blue, and 24 ones were green. Basing on this research, it was found that in the consistent conditions the real participants agreed with 8,2 % of the given statements while in the inconsistent ones they agreed only with 1,25% of assertions (Moscovici & Zavalloni, 1969).

Therefore, the consistent minority is more effective in comparison with the inconsistent one, and the most crucial part of the minority effectiveness is the consistency. The main point is that the consistency and commitment principle is one of the most effective ways to persuade people to do something. In addition, when the taken decision is performed verbally or confirmed in another way, an individual follows it even if it is completely wrong. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that due to the mentioned principle the texting while driving problem can be reduced.

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Applying the Strategy

The consistency principle is based on the idea that a person has to confirm publicly certain small decision to follow own choice in bigger matters. Therefore, it is possible to notice that to solve texting while driving problem, people have to confirm openly that they will stop distracting on their phones during driving. It can be done due to the online pledges. First of all, it is important to create a public page or a website devoted to this problem. Then, it has to be promoted so people would consider the mentioned issue. The website development can be a difficult thing from the financial perspective. However, currently, due to the social networks, there is no problem in promoting a similar page freely.

To turn people attention to this problem, the page content has to be concentrated on texting while driving statistical data and real examples with terrible consequences. Particularly, the evidence has to be provided for the specific locations. In this case, people would feel that the problem is near them, and fatal consequences can chase everyone. After reading of all the needed information, people have to give pledges not to text while driving. Such pledges have to be made publicly. For example, on the social networks, when a person votes, comments or joins a group, it is possible to see all these activities. If a pledge is taken on the website, it is crucial to provide a person with questions about his/her name, city, region, country. It has to be the condition of signing a pledge.

After a pledge is given, a person can leave comments, share certain cases or stories as well as read other people positions and beliefs concerning this problem. For even more positive results, people can leave their emails and synchronize them with the public page or website. Due to this step, the information about texting while driving problem and its further development as well as researches with the statistical data can be regularly sent as reminders on people phones.

To turn their attention toward the problem, the online pledge concept has to be supported not only by convincing evidence and statistical data but also visual materials. For example, a pledge has to include the image of crossed with red color hands that text on phone. There should be also written certain words about no texting while driving (Appendix A). As an alternative, the image with the slogan concerning texting while driving that placed on the red road sign can be used (Appendix B). In this case, people attention will be even more increased since the brain focuses not only on the cognitive functions but also on visual information. Right near the picture, the text about taking the pledge never drive and text at the same time has to be placed. After it, one has to set buttons, on which people have to click to take this pledge. In addition, it is critical to put there the text explaining what the mentioned pledge means. In this text, people have to read that they swear not to text messages or emails, use website, and watch videos because all these actions can put in danger their own lives or the lives of other people on the road.

By taking this pledge, the individuals confirm that they would not only never drive and text at the same time but also take all the needed actions to educate other people about the danger of texting while driving since no text or mail is worth the risk of dying or taking someone`s life. Therefore, in this way, the consistency and commitment principle will be applied to the problem mentioned above. Particularly, by promising publicly not to be distracted by phones, people feel that they have to follow their decisions and provide safe driving conditions for themselves and others.

Evaluation of Strategy as a Solution

It is possible to say that online pledge strategy can be effective enough. What is more, one of its positive sides is the economic feasibility. Thus, it is unnecessary to spend money to post the online pledge. Financial resources can be spent only on the development of the separate website devoted to texting while driving. However, the same pledge can be placed on the social networks without payment. It makes the process much easier for volunteers or other people with poor financial background. At the same time, the pledge strategy is workable since it is not too difficult to find the relevant information and evidence. It is also possible to develop the needed pledge form that includes supporting images and explaining information. The only difficulty can be with the receiving of the statistical data basing on these pledges but with the help of special applications, this issue can also be solved. To reach reasonable results, it is critical to wait for at least several months to compare the received information with the statistical data concerning the relevant topic.

However, despite many positive sides of this strategy, there are particular psychological limitations that can influence its effectiveness. What is more, many cases prove that people are not always commitment to their decision. The main role in this situation plays the convenience. Therefore, the more people are convenient not to text while driving, the higher the chances that they will do it. It is important to persuade people that the committed actions are not arguing with their attitudes or beliefs. Due to it, the probability that people will be willing to fulfill the made decisions is stronger. Hence, the information campaign has to be convenient enough to persuade them to follow it. This limitation can be serious since the behavior changing is a complex task, and it is difficult to predict how people will behave themselves.


Overall, it is critical to note that texting while driving is a serious problem that has to be solved or at least reduces. To prevent the accidents due to the distraction, people have to realize that these actions cannot be right. It is possible to apply Cialdini`s consistency and commitment principle to solve this problem. It is based on the idea that when people publicly make choices, they follow them more willingly. Therefore, the proposed strategy includes online pledges, due to which people will take their decisions not to text while driving openly. This strategy can be effective enough since many types of researches prove the consistency power in changing of person`s behavior. In addition, such strategy does not require any financial sources or serious technical support. Therefore, it is simple in its implementation. Hence, now, it is critical to promote the online pledge tool and make it become as widespread as possible. In this case, the texting while driving problem can be reduced.

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