Who hasn’t felt a little emotional after seeing one of those texting and driving commercials with tragic real-life stories? Many of us may have even experienced a twinge of remorse, knowing we may be guilty of this particular behavior. But why does it seem as though we not deterred? Why are so many still driving while distracted? Distracted driving is any behavior that takes your attention away from driving. Distracted driving is a dangerous, ever-growing traffic safety issue, and may have serious, life altering repercussions.
In 2012 3,328 people lost their lives as a result of distracted driving. But distracted driving doesn’t just consist of texting. Eating, putting on makeup, dialing your phone, checking emails, fiddling with the radio, and other behaviors all take your attention off driving and put you, and others, at risk of a collision. But because texting requires your eyes, hands, and attention on your phone and off the road, it is one of the most dangerous types of distracted driving behaviors.
Awareness may be the best way to get Americans’ focus back on driving and less on the dangerous distractions around us. Here are some shocking statistics related to distracted driving:
- For each passing second across America, about 660,000 drivers are using a cell phone or other electronic device while driving.
- Any act that requires both your eyes and hands while driving (including dialing a phone, texting, or even just reaching for your phone) triples your risk of getting into an accident.
- On average, sending or reading a text will take your eyes off the road for about 4.6 seconds—and at 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field blind.
- A study showed that more than half of those surveyed believe that using a cell phone, texting, or sending emails makes no difference on their driving performance… but as passengers, 90% of those reported that they would feel very unsafe if the driver was on the phone with them in the car.
- About one-third of drivers 18 to 24 reported that they feel it is relatively safe to take their eyes off the road for 3 to 10 seconds or more before driving becomes dangerous.
- One of every four teens will respond to a text at least once while driving. And one of every five teens admit to having multi-message text conversations while on the road.
- The odds of a driver reading or sending a text message doubles and triples for those under 25.
For parents with teen drivers, a good course of action is to talk to them about the dangers of distracted driving, set rules for them, and always ensure that you are setting a good example while you are in the driver’s seat. Also, learn the laws of your state, and be sure your whole family knows about them. 37 states have outlawed phone use entirely for drivers under 18. Most states have made it illegal for all drivers to text and drive. But even if it’s not against the law where you live, consider making a personal commitment to avoid this incredibly risky behavior. And even if distracted driving behaviors don’t lead to an accident… you or your teen could end up with a ticket, a heavy fine, or even a suspended license.