Written by Carey Davis
Texting has become an integral part of day-to-day life in the United States, especially for younger generations. More than 150 billion text messages are sent each month, ranging from a quick piece of information like “the meeting is at 3” to in-depth conversations. Unfortunately, this convenient technology has a dark side.
In theory, everyone knows how dangerous texting and driving can be. Multiple national campaigns use everyone from teen celebrities to the families of people killed in texting and driving accidents to hammer home the point. Distracted driving increases the likelihood of an automobile accident so significantly that some New York legislators are pushing for a breathalyzer-like test for texting and driving.
It isn’t just the distracted driver and his passengers who are at risk. At 55 mph, taking your eyes off the road for the average of 4.6 seconds it takes to check a text message means you’re driving the length of a football field blind. Imagine what could happen in that distance: a car pulling into the lane in front of you, an object rolling into the road, a lane merging unexpectedly on an unfamiliar road. And, that’s assuming that you’re on a highway. In populated areas, the risks include a bicyclist swerving into your lane, a child or pet running into the street and a car pulling out of a driveway.
Most states prohibit texting and driving, but distracted driving accidents caused by texting and other cell phone usage occur at an alarming rate.
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Texting and Driving Statistics
These statistics relating to mobile device use on the road should be enough to persuade any driver—or anyone else on the road—to take greater care.
- According to the S. Department of Transportation, cell phones are involved in about 1.6 million automobile accidents each year.
- Those 1.6 million accidents result in about half a million injuries.
- Cell phone distractions cause between 3,000 and 6,000 deaths each year.
- The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute determined that a person texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than an intoxicated driver.
- 5% of students aged 16 and older who responded to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Youth Risk Behavior Survey self-reported texting and driving within the previous 30 days.
- A CDC analysis of multiple studies put that number at just over 31% for adults aged 18-64.
- Nearly ¼ of all automobile crashes involve cell phones.
- A texting driver is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash.
- Just reaching for a mobile device can increase the chances of an accident by up to 40%.
- Teens who text while driving spend approximately 10% of their driving time outside their lane.
In view of the frightening statistics above, this final bit of data may be the most disturbing of all:
77% of young adults are very confident or somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving.
Texting and driving is so prevalent that chances are good that you are part of the problem. Whether or not you text or use your mobile device while driving, you are at risk. Remember that avoiding these dangers on the road requires more than just refraining from using your cell phone and engaging in other distracting behavior while driving. You must also be on the alert for distracted drive who may jeopardize you and your passengers.
Resources and Links
CDC: Distracted Driving Statistics – Types of Distraction, Prevention and Additional Resources
Texting and Driving Statistics – Why It Matters
DWI: Driving While Intexticated – Texting and Distracted Driving Infographic
NHTSA: Distracted Driving Overview – Consequences and How You Can Get Involved
What is distracted driving? – From the Department of Motor Vehicles
Foundation for Traffic Safety – Distracted Driving Video
Governors Highway Safety Association – Facts, Figures and Laws on Distracted Driving
End Distracted Driving – Three Types of Distractions You Should Know