Get the Facts About Texting While Driving
Cell phones, particularly smartphones, have made our lives easier in so many ways. They have made us more connected than ever before, enabling us to go out and live our lives without having to worry about missing an important phone call or message. But the downside to that freedom is that many people are unwilling to stop their car to answer the phone, read an e-mail, or send a text message, risking not just their lives, but the lives of other drivers who happen to be near them at the time.
Distracted driving is defined as driving while doing something else that takes your attention away from the road and is divided into three categories: visual (something that takes a driver’s eyes off the road), manual (something that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel), and cognitive (something that takes a driver’s mind off of driving).
80% of car accidents involve some form of distracted driving, but texting while dangerous is particularly dangerous because it falls into all three categories of distracted driving. Cell phones are involved in 1.6 million car accidents every year. Of all distracted driving activities, texting while driving is by far the most dangerous. The risk of a car accident increases by 1.3 times while listening or talking and by 1.4 times while reaching for a device, but texting while driving makes an accident 23 times more likely.
The minimum amount of time a driver takes their eyes off the road while texting is five seconds. If traveling at 55 miles per hour, the distance traveled during those five seconds is equal to the length of a football field.
Teen and young adult drivers have a reputation for being biggest culprits of texting while driving. 71% of teens admit to having composed and sending a text message while driving and drivers under the age of 20 have the highest instance of being in fatal accidents caused by distracted driving. 77% of young adults are either very or somewhat confident they can safely text while driving and 55% of young adults think texting while driving is easy. But teens who text while driving spend an average of 10% of the time veering out of their lane while doing so. Studies have found the reaction time of a teenager texting while driving is equal to the reaction time of a 70-year-old person driving with no distractions.
However, just because teens are frequent texters doesn’t mean adults are completely innocent, either. 48% of teen drivers report seeing their parents texting while driving and 48% of kids aged 12-17 report having been in a car while the driver was texting. A 2011 survey found 69% of drivers aged 18-64 admitted to having talked on a cell phone while driving and 31% said they sent text messages or emails while driving within 30 days prior to being surveyed.
Laws regarding cell phone use and texting while driving vary from state to state. Texting while driving is prohibited in 39 states, plus Washington D.C. All cell phone usage while driving is banned by beginner drivers in 32 states and Washington D.C. Handheld cell phone usage while driving is banned 10 states and Washington D.C. In Michigan, all drivers are prohibited from texting while driving and all cell phone usage is banned for beginner drivers who have not yet earned their full driver’s license. Visit distraction.gov to find your state’s laws regarding cell phone usage and texting while driving.