There is no question that texting while driving is extremely dangerous and irresponsible. This is why most states throughout the country have made cell phone use behind the wheel illegal. Although many drivers, especially young ones, continue to participate in cell phone use behind the wheel, many are ignorant of how deadly this behavior can be.
Vehicle accidents are a large contributor to the annual death toll in the United States, causing over 146,000 deaths in 2015 alone. Ronald Bua, a Pittsburgh injury attorney and distracted driving safety advocate, says that reducing cell phone use behind the wheel can drastically reduce that number, and is something that parents, advocates and drivers should work on.
But I’m Good at it
Many drivers think that they are “good” at texting and driving. This is the equivalent to saying you’re good at driving blindfolded—you’re not. Many drivers think that texting and driving is dangerous for everyone but themselves and delude themselves of the risk they assume when they participate in it.
Some of the statistics behind texting and driving accidents are astonishing. The most shocking facts include:
- People who text while driving are 6 times more likely to get into an accident than those who drive while intoxicated. In short, you’re less likely to get into an accident while driving drunk than you are while texting behind the wheel.
- The average amount of time a driver takes to type out a text message is 5 seconds. If you’re driving 55 mph and look down to text for five seconds, you’ve already driven the length of a football field. In 2014, the Journal of Adolescent Health reported that the maximum amount of time a driver can safely look away from the road is only two seconds.
- 11 teenagers die every day due to texting and driving. Teenagers are 400% more likely to get into an accident from texting and driving. AT&T’s Teen Driver Survey found that 97% of teenagers think it’s dangerous, while 43% of them engage in the activity anyway.
- According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use while driving leads to 6 million accidents per year.
- Drivers distracted by texting are 8 times more likely to be involved in a collision than non-distracted drivers.
- A University of Utah study reported that a teen driver who is using a cell phone has the same reaction time as a 70-year-old driver who isn’t using a cell phone.
- 64% of all vehicle accidents in the United States each year are caused from cell phone usage behind the wheel—that’s 1.6 million accidents.
- Since 2010, over 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving at any given moment in the United States. The Office of Traffic Safety chalks this up to how addicted Americans have become to technology and cell phones.
- 520 pedestrians were killed by distracted drivers in the United States in 2014.
- 421,000 people in the United States are injured each year by a distracted driver.
What’s the Solution?
Enough people die in car accidents each year to wipe out the population in just two human life cycles—with distracted driving being a major contributor to those deaths. Many companies and state governments are racing to determine the solution to distracted driving—apps that reward you for not using your phone while behind the wheel, cars that block cell phone signals and rising fines for cell-phone-use citations.
But many experts agree that the beginning of a distracted driving solution is the drivers themselves. Our culture has become deeply obsessed with technology and our phones. Learning to curb those impulses, whether it be turning your phone off or placing it in the backseat, can train drivers to get into the habit of leaving their phones alone while operating a motor vehicle. Additionally, safety experts urge parents to set a good example by disregarding their phones while their children are in the car.
By understanding how deadly and dangerous texting and driving is, we can help prevent future generations from participating in this detrimental activity. For more information and to stay up-to-date on distracted driving news, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s distracted driving website.
About the Author
Lauren Bennett is a content marketing specialist based in San Diego, CA. She works with law firms and public safety organizations throughout the country to craft custom-tailored content built to educate the public about the dangers of distracted and impaired driving.