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Does optimism bias lead to distracted driving?

A lot of things lead to distracted driving. Some people struggle with phone addiction, for instance, so they feel like they cannot put the phone down behind the wheel. Others run late for everything they do, so they often find themselves eating or drinking behind the wheel as they attempt to get back on schedule.

However, one thing that does not quite get enough attention is optimism bias. This is a way that people see the world, in which they always assume the best about the future and the potential outcomes.

It sounds like optimism bias would be a good thing, and it can be. It can make you feel hopeful even when things look bleak. It can give you motivation. It can help you feel better about day-to-day life, even if things do not always go exactly as you planned.

But there is a downside. As one expert put it in Huffington Post: "The bad part of the optimism bias is that we disregard the reality of an overall situation, because we think we are excluded from the merciless nightmares of life."

We know the risks

This leads us to distracted driving. Most people know the risks, even when they don't know the numbers. They may not know that nine people die each and every day from distracted driving, but they know that it's dangerous. They understand that they shouldn't do it and that it causes serious injuries and fatalities all the time.

But that's where optimism bias comes into play. They assume that it won't happen to them. They assume that those nine people will be in other cars, on other roads.

When they pick up their phone to check a text message, they don't think that it's worth it to read the message, even if they kill someone in an accident. What they think is that they can do it safely, that they won't get into an accident. There is no other way to rationalize the behavior. They think it will all work out for the best.

But, for many people, it doesn't. Remember, those nine fatalities just reflect the most devastating accidents. Many more crashes lead to otherwise avoidable injuries. Even more simply lead to property damage. Distracted driving causes accidents, even when those drivers involved assumed they would be safe and could just take a second to glance down at the phone.

Your rights

Have you gotten hit by a distracted driver and suffered injuries or lost a loved one? If so, you must know what legal rights you have in New York.

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