Texting while driving can be deadly. It only takes a few seconds of having your eyes off the road to cause a serious crash that can claim the lives of drivers and innocent passengers in just moments.
In 2015 alone, over 3,400 people were killed in accidents caused by distracted driving. 391,000 individuals suffered injuries in vehicle crashes that involved distracted driving. Let’s break down the shocking stats behind distracted driving in America:
(All of these scary statistics come from the US government’s NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), unless otherwise noted.)
Teens & Texting Behind the Wheel
16 to 24 year olds use their cell phones far more than any other age group. When it comes to car crashes, teens are the largest group to report distracted driving as the cause of fatal accidents. While picking up the phone to read or send a message may not seem like dangerous behavior, the consequences can be deadly. It takes just 5 seconds to avert your eyes and read a text message, but when going along at 55 MPH, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. No text message is worth that risk.
It’s not only cell phones that pose a potential distraction for teens, but it’s important to be aware that as cell phone usage and reliance increases among many age groups, the risks increase, as well. Compared to adult drivers, teenagers are four times as likely to be involved in a crash or to nearly crash while talking and texting.
Federal data demonstrates that about 16% of all fatal crashes involve some type of distraction. An estimated 660,000 drivers use their cell phones during daylight hours in the US. With so many on the roadways easily distracted by mobile devices, the risks and devastating consequences are all too real. As a result, the NHTSA has created a national campaign to raise awareness and provide tips and information designed to help save lives. They are specifically targeting teen drivers in social media campaigns aimed at helping our youth understand the legal and moral consequences associated with texting and driving.
Laws On Distracted Driving
Many states are creating their own laws about distracted driving, specifically targeting cell phone use behind the wheel. In some places, it is now illegal to text and drive. While you simply shouldn’t engage in this behavior for safety reasons, you should also be aware that you could be breaking the law.
In Massachusetts, texting while driving has been banned since the law was passed in 2010, and drivers under the age of 18 are also banned from using a cell phone at all while behind the wheel. Police have stepped up enforcement efforts in recent years, issuing thousands of citations to drivers who violate the safe driving law. Parents should be sure to inform their teen drivers of the potential legal consequences of texting while driving.
Remember that distracted driving doesn’t only involve texting and using a mobile device. There are many simple, common activities that drivers engage in that can lead to preventable accidents, including eating, drinking, applying makeup, and changing the radio station. For your safety and the safety of everyone else on the road, please focus your attention on driving, and encourage other drivers to do the same.