Home » Book Biz » BOOK BIZ — A riveting look at the dangers of texting and driving
» A Deadly Wandering: A Mystery, a Landmark Investigation, and the Astonishing Science of Attention in the Digital Age By Matt Richtel Published by William Morrow $15.99 softback

BOOK BIZ — A riveting look at the dangers of texting and driving

Texting and driving is dangerous and irresponsible. Until I read the exceptionally well-written A Deadly Wandering, though, I had no idea how terrifying it truly is. And I say “terrifying” because after you read it, you’ll quickly start noticing how many people around you are messing around on their phones when their eyes should be on the road and their hands should be on the wheel. Even if you never touch your phone while driving, a whole lot of other folks sharing the road with you are.

Author Matt Richtel bases his book around a tragic true story out of Utah. In 2006, a 19-year-old college student named Reggie Shaw was driving down a narrow road in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains early one rainy September morning. Headed the opposite way were two actual rocket scientists, on their way into work, commuting via their usual route. Shaw’s SUV drifted into their lane, clipping the small sedan they were traveling in, and a large truck hauling a trailer behind Shaw then t-boned them, killing both men instantly. Shaw was unharmed. He’d been texting just before impact.

Back in 2006, before our world was drenched in smartphones like it is today, the science of how our brains handle actions like talking on the phone while driving and texting while driving was still fairly new and evolving. The law was evolving to catch up to the times, as well, which was a tremendous challenge to the people investigating Shaw’s case.

Richtel does a masterful job of balancing the stories of Shaw and the families of the two men killed, along with the hard work of the investigators working on the case, and the incredible scientists trying to uncover just why we’re so attached to our devices that we’ll literally risk our lives and others’ lives for them. The way the book is structured and paced is just perfect, with short chapters that bounce back and forth between covering Shaw, the families, the scientists, and law enforcement.

The science presented in the book is both memorable and scary. Texting and driving makes you six times more likely to crash. Talking on a cell phone while driving makes you four times more likely – about the same as being legally intoxicated. So, yes, texting and driving is worse than driving drunk. (And talking while driving isn’t actually safe, either.)

This book will change your behavior for the better. Read it and ask those you love to do the same.

— LouAnn Lofton, mbj@msbusiness.com

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