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The popularity of social media sites is causing a headache for law enforcement agencies as well as insurance companies. Although it is well known that drinking and driving do not mix, an even greater danger may be present on our roadways. Similar to texting while driving, individuals who insist on continuing their online Twitter and Facebook conversations on the roads, put themselves and others at high risk.

Some states have now instituted very harsh penalties for using a mobile media device while operating a motor vehicle. The battle between those who stand up for individual’s rights versus those who champion the idea of responsibility is a hot issue in many states.

The Dangers of Texting and Driving

The results are still being released after lengthy study, but statistics indicate that reaction times is slowed by at least 40 percent when using a mobile phone device. Making or receiving a call is bad enough – a simple push of a button – but texting or tweeting is cause for alarm.

According to studies performed by several independent agencies, constant attention to the small view screen on a smartphone can lead to a serious reduction in driver reaction time because the focus of the eyes is not on the road long enough to properly take in vital information.

Today’s mobile devices are not manufactured to be efficiently used with one hand. This adds to the danger because drivers either take one hand off the steering wheel or attempt to navigate with the elbows. If the text or tweet contains vital information, the focus of the brain is on the absorption of the data, not on the environment outside the vehicle.

The studies conclude that driving while engaging in conversation on a social media site is more dangerous in terms of slowed reaction time than the effects of alcohol or marijuana. This has law enforcement agencies strictly enforcing the law.

How This Affects Insurance Rates

The already high cost of insuring a teen or young adult is made even more of a problem because of this alarming new data. Teen drivers tend to use their phones for interacting on Facebook and Twitter more often than older, more mature adults. Insurance providers have no choice but to lump them into a single, high-risk category.

Older, more experienced drivers have learned that becoming a good insurance risk means repeating safe practices over and over. Every time a close brush with disaster occurs on the roadways, drivers recognize that their attention to what is happening around them contributed to keeping them out of harm’s way. A younger, inexperienced driver has not yet learned this, and the result is the misplaced idea that multitasking is not cause for concern.

Many states have banned the use to cell phones for texting while driving altogether, and insurance companies are certain to come down hard on those found guilty of breaking this rule. Regardless of age, drivers who cause an accident while engaged in conversation on a social media site may face the maximum penalty allowed by law.

Watch Out For Pedestrian and Bicyclists Too

In addition to other drivers, those on the road also need to look out for pedestrians and even bicyclist who are reading and sending messages. This loss of concentration can have deadly consequences for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike.

Each year, sizable quantities of people die due to texting and driving. It is of utmost importance for individuals to understand that the use of mobile devices while driving, especially interacting with others on social media sites, causes harm to innocent parties as well as to themselves.

This article was contributed the team at helping safe drivers lower their insurance rates.