Regardless of the known implications of texting while driving to reduce driver alertness and increase traffic accidents, exploring the possible reasons for the behavior is something that criminologists have only recently begun to investigate. The study builds on this small body of research by checking if low self-control is linked to the frequency of texting while driving and, further, whether this institution is moderated by perceptions of the texting habits of different drivers and best buddies. Results based on information collected from a sample of 469 young adults indicate that low self-control is positively related to the frequency of texting while driving. Additionally, this institution is amplified by a person’s perceptions of the ratio of other motorists who participate in texting while driving, but not from the texting and driving habits of best friends.
Texting while driving is a known contributor to traffic injuries, often leading to severe economic, social, and psychological costs to those involved. Understanding the factors that lead to texting while driving is of paramount importance if attempts to curb the behavior should be realized. In this study, we sought to add to the literature analyzing the causes of texting while driving by exploring a version that incorporates self-control (Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990) and social learning (Akers, 2009) concepts. In this last section, we discuss our findings and their implications for theory and practice, the constraints of this study that point to future research directions and provide concluding remarks.
This study’s first primary finding is that low self-control is associated with a higher texting frequency while driving. This was found in both bivariate and multivariate models, using a standardized impact of 0.15 found in a model controlling for demographic factors and many social learning variables. This finding is consistent with what was recently reported by Quisenberry and other research beyond criminology, yet inconsistent with what Gray and Green both said. While the null results emerging from Green’s study might be an artifact of the small sample size (115 participants), another explanation is possible concerning the null findings reported by Gray. Specifically, as mentioned in our supplementary investigations, low self-control failed to emerge as a statistically significant predictor of a dichotomized step of texting while driving in the model that excluded the interaction terms, precisely what Gray saw as well. Thus, very low self-control might be a more powerful predictor of the frequency but not the incidence of texting while driving.
The second primary finding of the study is that perceptions of others’ driving behavior significantly moderate the impact of reduced self-control on texting while driving. Low self-control wasn’t correlated with texting while driving. At higher values, the effect of low self-control was highly significant and substantively significant; this general pattern was also replicated in the logistic regression model. Therefore, it would seem that the effect that one’s degree of self-control has on texting while driving is strongly conditioned by the perceived behavior of other drivers on the road.
The third primary finding of the study is that perception of best buddy texting while driving doesn’t moderate reduced self-control on texting while driving. This finding is contrary to a few studies analyzing the interactive effect between low self-control and peer behavior have been discovered while at the same time consistent with other research that found no signs of moderation. Regardless of the absence of moderation signs, it ought to be noted that perceptions of best friend texting while driving emerged as a statistically significant predictor of texting while driving, as did perspectives concerning the wrongfulness of texting while going. These discoveries are in line with prior research assessing social learning theory.
The findings of the study have significant implications for both practice and theory. Regarding theory, the results provide additional support for the self-control theory and social learning theory, as factors reflecting constructs from both concepts were correlated with texting while driving in multivariate models. The findings also provide further evidence strengthening the complementary nature of both theories, according to the highly conditioned effect of reduced self-control on texting while driving depending on the ratio of other drivers who participate in texting while driving. From a policy and practice perspective, the study’s findings reinforce the importance of efforts to decrease the potential for self-control shortages to grow during childhood and adolescence. If such deficiencies can be averted, the frequency of texting while driving among young adults may also be reduced.
Additionally, the study’s findings suggest that efforts directed at altering an individual’s perceptions regarding the texting and driving habits of others and their perspectives on how wrong it’s to drive and text could also decrease the behavior’s frequency. Even if such programming may not entirely reduce texting while driving one of the high-frequency texters to zero, even a decline in the frequency is a direction in the ideal step. Therefore, things like AT&T’s”It Can Wait” campaign ought to be encouraged and expanded. As public awareness campaigns changed perceptions concerning the harms of smoking before, similar attempts might, over time, alter perceptions about texting while driving.
Having discussed the findings of the study and their consequences, certain constraints require attention. First, this analysis was based on a convenience sample. Though the incidence of texting while driving was high from the selection (90%), different results relevant to the relationships investigated herein might be obtained from a sample that is more representative of the driving population. Second, the analysis was cross-sectional, which restricts our ability to establish causal ordering. This being said, it’s more defensible to argue that a characteristic like low self-control would precede recent texting while driving instead of claiming that texting while driving affects someone’s self-control. Third, though we took measures to decrease the possibility of memory recall error by restricting the reference interval for texting while driving into the previous 30 days and asking about texting on different drives as opposed to individual texts sent/received, we’ve got no way to estimate the accuracy of each participant’s report of texting while driving.
Fourth, regarding the perceptual measures of other motorists’ and best buddies texting, the chance of projection effects exists while driving. An individual’s texting whilst driving could explain variability in perceptions instead of vice versa. Recognizing this, it is worth highlighting for viewers that our interest in measuring these factors had less to do with if they influenced texting and driving and much more to do with if they conditioned the effect of low-level. Finally, as with many studies within criminology, the review was non-experimental, and we can’t eliminate the possibility of omitted variable bias. By way of instance, parental self-control could influence young adult self-control and texting patterns while driving. Therefore, future research should try to replicate our findings when accounting for a larger group of potential confounding influences.
Despite the mentioned limitations, this study provides new insight into the significance of social and self-control learning perspectives for understanding texting while driving. Given the lack of research into the causes of texting while driving within the criminological literature combined with the importance of addressing their behavior’s pervasiveness, there seems to be ample room for further research. Such research may continue to investigate the significance of social and self-control learning theories for understanding texting while driving while also integrating concepts from different views. In doing this, research findings may be used to shape policies that may reduce texting while driving and its detrimental effects on so many men and women’s lives.