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Beyond Distracted Driving: When Texting Is a Bad Idea

Text messaging can be a legitimate health risk, even outside of distracted driving. Here, tips to curb the bad habit.

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Don’t text while walking.

A recent report from The Atlantic reveals that one in three people don’t look up from their phones while crossing the street; other studies explain that in 2011, there were 1,500 people who reported cell phone-related injuries while walking and that over 9 percent of them were texting while injured.

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Don’t text while driving, even “hands-free.”

Smartphones now offer ways to send text messages with your voice, but don’t think you’re safe just because your fingers aren’t on your phone. A recent study by the AAA found that hands-free devices like bluetooth headsets—widely purported to make cell phone conversations safer on the road—actually don’t make much of a difference when it comes to your ability to pay attention.

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Don’t text instead of talking.

According to a CNN report, developmental psychologists worry that habitual texting as opposed to actual talking could negatively impact interpersonal skills.

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Paolo Cipriani

Don’t text at the dinner table.

It’s not unhealthy, but it’s rude. Restaurant-goers who were irritated by distracted friends have pioneered the phone stack: the first person who picks up their cell pays the bill.

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Don’t text at a red light.

You’re stopped, but you’re still controlling a vehicle weighing several thousand pounds and need to be ready for anything. Try an app like Cellcontrol, which uses technology to block talking or texting while you’re in the car.

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istock/Don Bayley

Don’t text … at the gas station?

This urban legend has been around for a while, of cell phones sparking an explosion at the pumps. According to Snopes, there has never been an actual report of it happening; still, why risk it?

Originally Published in Reader's Digest