Why Texting and Driving Don’t Mix

By now, most drivers understand the danger of texting and driving. But despite increased awareness and state laws that restrict the use of electronic devices by drivers, the practice of texting while driving continues to occur, placing drivers, passengers, pedestrians and others at risk of injury or death.

 Distracted driving crashes currently account for more than 421,000 injuries and 3,328 deaths per year in the U.S. Many of these incidents involve an individual who was texting while driving—underscoring the need for safe driving advocates and policymakers to find new ways to stop texting and driving.

 The Problem with Texting and Driving

 Although texting and driving is an issue for drivers across all demographics and age groups, there is evidence that young drivers are especially susceptible to distraction-related traffic crashes. Inexperienced drivers under the age of 20 currently account for the highest percentage of distraction-related fatalities.

Additional data demonstrating the risks associated with the practice of texting while driving include:

  •  At any moment in time, more than 660,000 vehicles are being driven by people who are using hand-held mobile devices.
  •  Viewing or transmitting a text message takes the driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. At 55 mph, this means that the driver is not watching the road for at least 100 yards—the length of a U.S. football field.
  •  Approximately one in two U.S. high school students aged 16 years or older admit to texting or emailing while driving.

However, one of the most concerning aspects of texting and driving is the fact that it combines three different types of distractions (visual, manual and cognitive). In addition to requiring drivers to take their eyes off the road, texting causes them to remove their hands from the steering wheel and shift their mental focus away from driving—making texting while driving one of the most dangerous things you can do behind the wheel of a vehicle.

How to Stop Texting and Driving

Thousands of lives could be saved each year if drivers would simply avoid texting while operating a vehicle. While education continues to be the best way to end distracted driving, the push to eliminate texting-related crashes requires action on several fronts:

  •  Research state laws. In the U.S., laws that pertain to driving behaviors fall under the jurisdiction of states. If laws banning the practice of texting while driving are weak or non-existent in your state, contact state legislators and advocate for change.
  •  Ask about company policies. Many employers have started to implement company policies to prohibit distracted driving on the job. If your employer hasn’t adopted this type of policy yet, encourage them to do so and ask for permission to hang posters that remind employees about the dangers of texting and driving.
  •  Take personal responsibility. Ultimately, eliminating texting-related crashes boils down to drivers taking personal responsibility for their actions. By not texting while driving and encouraging others to follow your example, you can make a difference.

Ready to help improve road safety? We encourage you to make a personal commitment to avoid texting and driving, and get involved in the Decide to Drive campaign.