When you send a text message, you have to focus on the message you are typing, taking not only your arm off the wheel but your eyes off the road as well. Even if you are skilled enough to not look at your phone while texting, by taking just one hand off of the wheel, you lose a huge amount of coordination. Simply put, texting forces you to keep your mind off driving – something that you do not want to do on the road.
Because of the growing trend that is “texting while driving”, driving on American roadways has become more and more dangerous. Many drivers assume that they can safely text while operating a motor vehicle, but the numbers don’t lie – texting while driving is becoming one of the nation’s top killers.
Alarming Texting and Driving Facts and Statistics
- Texting while driving causes over 1,600,000 car accidents per year, according to the National Safety Council.
- Almost 25% of all car accidents are caused by texting while driving.
- According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, texting while driving causes 11 teen deaths every day.
- According to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, 330,000 injuries per year are caused by texting while driving.
- Texting while driving is the top driving distraction, according to teen drivers.
- Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause a car accident than driving while intoxicated is.
- According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, texting while driving is equivalent to driving after consuming 4 beers.
- Texting while driving leads to a 400% increase of taking your eyes off the road.
- Texting while driving slows your reaction speed for braking by 18%, according to HumanFactors and Ergonomics.
- According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, texting while driving makes you twenty-three times more likely to get into an accident.
- At any given moment, 800,000 drivers in the U.S. are engaged in texting while driving.
- According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, texting while driving is the equivalent to driving blind for 5 seconds at a time.
DWI: Driving While “Intexticated”
Below, please view a graphical representation of the above statistics.
Texting While Driving Laws
Needless to say, texting and driving has been causing the rise of car accidents in America, which has compelled legislators to take action. The solution usually calls for a ban on the use of cell phones in sending text messages while driving. (This, however, does not change the fact that motorists can still make calls on their hands-free set on the road.)
Early on, one of the first laws against cell phone use while driving was the prohibition of making phone calls while driving, for the obvious reason that it keeps one of the motorist’s hands busy when both of them should be on the wheel – a scenario that caused a lot of car accidents.
Later, the laws were changed a bit and they finally allowed users to make calls on the cell phones while on the road so long as these calls were made through a hands-free set. Unfortunately, this did not ultimately solve the risk of mobile phone-related car accidents. When the text messaging feature of cell phones became popular, people started using their phones mainly with text messaging, which caused even more trouble.
Now, at the time of this article, 30 states, including DC and Guam ban text messaging while driving. Within the next few years, more and more states will enact laws banning “texting” and driving. Please view the chart at ghsa.org to view mobile phone restrictions while driving in your state. Chances are, there is some type of law against mobile phone use while driving in your state!
Not only is texting while driving against the law, but it’s also very dangerous and it is a fast-growing cause of many traffic accidents in the United States. From 2001 to 2007, around 16,000 people died from cell phone related traffic accidents. Authorities claim that increases in texting volumes have resulted in thousands of additional road fatalities in the United States.
Alternatives To Texting While Driving
As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry. To prevent yourself from becoming a statistic in this unfortunate trend, you should strongly consider limiting cell phone use while driving. It would be most wise to completely stop using your cell phone behind the wheel; but in this age of technology, often times that is not possible. Below are some alternatives to texting and driving. You probably don’t need to text and much as you think you do!
Voice Recognition Software
There are many cell phones that come with voice recognition software so you can safely send text messages while driving without trying to look at that tiny cell phone screen!
Text Blocking Applications
Some new generation phones like the iPhone and the Droid have apps that will determine if you are in a moving vehicle. If you are, texts won’t be delivered until your vehicle comes to a stop.
You can program your cell phone to send a response at any time you are not able to text back a reply. While driving, simply set up an autoresponder saying “busy driving… I’ll text you later”. Chances are your friends won’t even realize that it was an automated response!
Just Turn It Off
You can’t receive messages when your phone is off, right? I know this isn’t ideal, but it is the simplest and cheapest way to do things. When you turn your phone back on, all messages sent to you during the time your phone was off will be received.
Just Say No
The fact remains – you are much more accident prone while you are behind the wheel using a cell phone. Texting while driving can increase your insurance premiums in many ways. If you get a ticket while driving, this stain will go on your record and you will most likely end up paying more for your insurance rates. If, god forbid, you are involved in an accident while texting, you will be at fault.
Everyone should keep in mind that there is a very obvious yet serious reason why lawmakers are banning these kinds of practices with cellular phones – it’s plainly dangerous. By not refraining from this irresponsible method of driving, you not only put yourself in danger, but you put those other motorists, pedestrians and the very people riding in the car with you in danger as well.
Be a responsible driver: don’t drive and text at the same time. As mentioned before – it’s better to be safe than sorry. Practice safe driving and avoid cell phone use behind the wheel… you’ll be happy you did!