We know that texting and driving is illegal and that you can be fined, yet many still do it, thinking I’ll just pop off this quick text and everything will be fine. The problem is that it’s not fine. Texting and driving, in addition to other uses of your phone while driving are the leading cause of car accidents and wrongful deaths in the United States.
Volkswagen created a jarring but necessary video about texting and driving. Please watch it here:
See, it’s a big deal! It’s easy to assume that checking your text messages or logging onto a website, or making a quick call isn’t distracting or can harm anyone. We have to start taking this more seriously, otherwise, we put others and ourselves in grave danger.
Texting and Driving Safely pulled together detailed statistics about phone usage while driving that is worth reviewing:
- Text Messaging makes a crash up to 2.3 times more likely
- Dialing 2.8 times more likely
- Talking or listening 1.3 times more likely
- Reaching for device 1.4 times more at risk
- 10% of drivers age 15-20 involved in car wrecks admitted to texting or talking on their mobile devices at the time of the crash.
- 77% of young adults are very or somewhat confident that they can text while driving.
- 55% of young adult drivers claim it’s easy to text while driving
Another resource, Drive Now, Text Later, also has even more detailed statistics worth reading:
When you text and drive, your chances of being in a traffic accident involving injury or death are dramatically increased.
- You are 23 times more likely to be involved in a traffic accident if you text and drive. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute)
- Over 25% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 report that they text “regularly” while driving. (Center For Disease Control)
- About 9% of all drivers on the road report that they use their cell phones to text “fairly often” while driving. (CDC)
- 5,474 people died in the U.S. in 2009 due to motor vehicle crashes that were caused by distracted driving. (Fatal Accident Reporting System)
- 448,000 people were injured in the U.S. in 2009 because of traffic accidents that were caused by distracted driving. (FARS)
- When using a cell phone while driving, the brain activity associated with driving is lessened by 37%. (Carnegie Mellon)
- The average time for sending or reading a text message is 4.6 seconds. A car traveling 55 miles-per-hour will travel the length of a
- football field in this amount of time. (VTTI)
- 40% of teens in the U.S. report that they have been in a vehicle while the driver was using a cell phone in a way that put passengers in danger. (Pew)
- 16% of all fatal motor vehicle crashes reported in the U.S. in 2009 occurred due to distracted driving. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
- 20% of all motor vehicle crashes involving injury in the U.S. in 2009 occurred as a result of distracted driving. (NHTSA)
- 48% of young drivers have seen their parents drive while talking on a cell phone.
- 48% of kids age 12-17 have been in a car while the driver was texting.
- 1 in 5 drivers of all ages confess to surfing the web while driving
Newsday reported a study in 2013 about texting while driving as the leading cause of death for teen drivers.
Texting while driving has become a greater hazard than drinking and driving among teenagers who openly acknowledge sending and reading text messages while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.
The number of teens who are dying or being injured as a result of texting while driving has skyrocketed as mobile device technology has advanced. Researchers at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park estimate more than 3,000 annual teen deaths nationwide from texting and 300,000 injuries.
The habit now surpasses the number of teens who drink and drive — a hazard that has been on a dramatic decline in recent years, researchers say.
An estimated 2,700 young people die each year as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol and 282,000 are treated in emergency rooms for injuries suffered in motor-vehicle crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Andrew Adesman and a team of Cohen investigators found that while driving between September 2010 and December 2011, among 8,947 teenagers aged 15-18 nationwide, an estimated 49 percent of boys admitted to texting while driving compared with 45 percent of girls.
Texting also increased with age. Only 24 percent of 15-year-olds tapped out messages while driving, compared with 58 percent of 18-year-olds, the data showed. “A person who is texting can be as impaired as a driver who is legally drunk,” said Adesman, noting that a texting driver is distracted from the movement of traffic and the function of his or her own vehicle.
The new data are in sharp contrast to findings about drinking and driving among teens. The CDC reported last fall that alcohol use among teen drivers has decreased by 54 percent since 1991. Texting, however, has quickly grown in the last five to seven years, Adesman said. “Fifty percent of high school students of driving age acknowledge texting while driving,” said Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen.
“When we compared states where there are no laws in effect [barring texting while operating a moving vehicle] and states where there are laws on the books, we found there was no difference in their responses,” Adesman said. “Clearly, the laws are not effective.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledged Wednesday that distracted driving of all kinds — including the use of handheld cellphones — is a growing hazard.
Agency officials describe texting as among the worst of driver distractions because conversing by text simultaneously involves manual, visual and mental distractions.
Observational surveys cited by the agency suggest more than 100,000 drivers are texting at any given daylight moment, while more than 600,000 drivers are using handheld phones while operating a car.
As an expert in teen behavior, Adesman puts texting while driving in the same risk category as other hazardous activities, such as lack of seat belt use; drinking and driving; binge drinking; drug and tobacco use; unsafe sex, and tanning devices.
“We have very strong taboos against drinking and driving. Kids don’t drink and drive every day. But some kids are out there texting and driving seven days a week — and they admit it,” Adesman said.
His research dovetails with a recent California study, which demonstrated that it isn’t just the teens who are texting but a large proportion of moms, dads and even grandparents.
That analysis of 715 adults between the ages of 30 and 64 found that nearly two-thirds admitted to using a cellphone while driving with children in the car, and one-third acknowledged texting while driving.
Finally, an article found on Communities Digital News reported that texting and driving is the leading cause of teenage death. Texting while drive is six times more dangers than driving while intoxicated and more dangerous than driving while high on marijuana.
The reason texting while driving is so dangerous is because it involves three out of three types or categories of distracted driving, while being under the influence of alcohol or marijuana only distracts the driver in two ways.
Distracted driving comes in three different forms:
- Cognitive or mental distraction occurs when a driver’s mind isn’t focused on driving. Distractions can include talking to another passenger and listening to the radio. These distractions take the drivers’ focus away from their driving.
- Visual distraction occurs when a driver looks at anything other than the road ahead. Checking a child’s seat belt is a visually distracting behavior as is glancing at electronic devices for the car such as GPS devices.
- Manual distraction occurs when the driver takes one or both hands off the wheel for any reason. Common examples include eating and drinking in the car, adjusting the GPS, or trying to get something from a purse, wallet, or briefcase
We’d love to hear from you. Do you text and drive? Do you know somebody who does? Do you regard texting and driving as a recipe for catastrophe?
For more resources, please log onto, Distraction.gov and Safety.trw.com
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.