Do you text message while you drive? As Dr. Phil embarks on his daily commute, he addresses the dangers that coincide with text messaging while driving. "I'm driving into work this morning to do a show I'm very passionate about. It makes me crazy to see these people dialing their cell phones and texting while trying to drive.
[AD]"And I'll tell you why: you smoke a joint and drive, your control of your vehicle goes down 35 percent. You text and drive, it goes down 95 percent. I've got my blackberry and when it's buzzing on the road, it's tempting to take a look at it, but I don't want to be charged with manslaughter, and you don't want that happening with you or your kids. We're going to drill down on this to find out what's going on, so we're headed to the studio."
In studio, before introducing his guests, Dr. Phil makes a plea to his audience, "I really hope you pay close attention to this show because either you are texting and driving, or someone you know is texting and driving, or some idiot next to you in the other lane is texting and driving, drifting over to your lane. It is like a ticking time bomb on the road."
Twenty-one-year-old Heather boasts that her multitasking skills are so fine-tuned, she has no problem texting while navigating the road.
While driving, Heather explains to Dr. Phil cameras, "I think it just takes a certain type of person to be able to multitask, and I still pay attention to my surroundings. I can text and still look at the road at the same time."
Heather's mother, Sonya, is terrified of her daughter's texting and driving habit. She believes it's just a matter of time before Heather hurts herself, or somebody else. "She says she's paying attention, but I know, that you can't pay attention if you're doing all these things," says Sonya.
[AD]Back in the car, Heather speaks to the cameras, "Dr. Phil, my phone is permanently attached to my hand while I drive. But I never put it down. I actually drive with my knee. I text with both of my fingers at the same time, and then I kind of just move my leg from left to right to do turns or stay in my lane while I text."
Heather notes proudly that her ability to text without looking at her phone is an acquired skill. When another vehicle nearly runs into her car, she reacts, "I almost just got in a wreck. I wonder if he's texting and driving because he needs to learn some skills. It's only 1:00 in the afternoon, and I just almost got ploughed."
Back in the studio, Dr. Phil asks, "OK, I'm just all ears. You need to tell me, after watching that, why is that OK?"
"I'm good at it," Heather responds with confidence.
"Let's assume that's true. What's the point?" asks Dr. Phil.
"It just keeps conversations short. I don't have to be on my phone and have a lot of different conversations, so texting makes it easy to stay in contact with a lot of my friends," she explains.
[AD]A pre-med major in college, Heather says she averages about 4000 text messages a month. Dr. Phil deduces that she must be an intelligent girl with the ability to reason, and explains that the controllability of her vehicle goes down 91 percent while she's texting.
"Now you think you're clever with your knee," Dr. Phil clarifies, "but the truth is, if a car swerved in front of you or somebody stopped real quickly or whatever, your driver's reaction time would be down 35 percent." He adds, "That's more than if you're drinking, it's more than if you're smoking dope."
"I think I did a pretty good job," she defends.
"That wasn't the question," he retorts.
"We timed you once, you had your hands off the wheel for 61 seconds at 70 miles an hour. That means you traveled 6,200 feet," says Dr. Phil. "That's football field, after football field, after football field, after football field that you're not touching the wheel with your hands."
[AD]Dr. Phil asks Heather to watch her actions. "Look at you looking down. See, every time you look down, if something happens, then you go back up, then you have to get your hands free, then you have to react mentally, and then muscularly. So all of that is probably, like, six to seven seconds before you could react. Do you really think that's OK?" he asks.
Heather thinks for a moment and responds, "Not when you're throwing numbers at me like that, I guess."
"Well, I hate to confuse you with the facts, but that's what they are. This is math, it's not magic," says Dr. Phil.
Dr. Phil polls his audience. "By show of hands, how many of you text and drive? Raise your hand. Raise it real high so I can get a good video of this and send it to your insurance company," he jokes. He asks an audience member, "Seriously, why don't you text and drive, if you don't?"
"Because I can't do both at the same time. It's impossible," an audience member responds.
"But is it just that she's not a good multitasker?" Dr. Phil asks Heather.
"Some people aren't good at," says Heather.
"I'm a mother of two, I'm a great multitasker," quips the audience member as the audience laughs and applauds.
[AD]Of the audience members who do text and drive, one woman explains, "I just do it because my kids text me from school if they need something or if I have to bring them something. But I think I'll stop now."
Heather is still not convinced. Dr. Phil consults former professional race car driver Jeff Bodner, who says it's not about what you're hands are doing, it's about what your mind is doing.
When Jeff put Heather's multitasking skills to the test with a driving obstacle course that she encountered while texting, her skills fell short. Heather's driving speed maxed at 9 mph; meaning she didn't even register on the test that requires a speed of at least 20 mph.