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The Dangers of Texting and Driving
Texting and driving is dangerous – so dangerous, in fact, that it’s one of the top factors in motor vehicle deaths. Don’t kid yourself. Texting and driving is never safe, and it’s never worth the risk.
Every day, 9 people are killed in distracted driving accidents. That adds up to 3,285 deaths per year. And every one of those numbers stands for a real person – a person whose loved ones had to plan an unexpected funeral and will probably never understand why this happened to their family.
Just how bad is the texting and driving problem?
Although fatal crashes are the worst-case scenario, they represent just a fraction of the full – and astronomical – impact of texting and driving.
The fatal crash numbers don’t count the victims who survive but whose lives are changed forever: the ones whose broken legs will bother them every time it rains for the rest of their lives, the ones whose severe injuries force them to relearn how to speak and how to walk, and the ones who are permanently paralyzed.
Yet the immense stakes don’t dissuade motorists from texting and driving. Distracted driving has become so prevalent in the United States that the phenomenon has been named an epidemic.
Overall, 1 in 4 car accidents are caused by texting and driving. Let that sink in – 25 percent of all accidents could be prevented if drivers would just put the phone away.
At any given time throughout the day, approximately 415,950 vehicles are being driven by people using handheld devices.
This device-related distraction leads to 1.6 million crashes each year…
… Which results in 390,000 injuries annually.
Why do people text and drive?
Unfortunately, most people think they can text and drive – even if they recognize that other people can’t.
55% of teenage drivers believe that they can easily manage texting while simultaneously navigating the road, even though they have little driving experience.
Think it’s only a teen driver problem? Think again. The overwhelming majority – 77% – of adult drivers share this dangerous delusion.
What makes even people who know that texting and driving is dangerous so sure that they are invincible? Sure, everyone likes to think they are a good driver, even as they complain about the “crazies” out there on the road. But the reality is that scientists have proven, again and again, that there’s no such thing as “safely” texting and driving.
It’s physiologically impossible to be good at driving if you’re not looking at, and paying full attention to, the road. During what may seem like “just a second” looking at your phone, you can easily travel a quarter of the length of a football field blind because you took your eyes off the road.
A lot could happen in that single second. An animal could cross the road, a child could chase a ball out into traffic, the wind could blow a garbage can into your path, a car up ahead could stall. And, with your eyes on a text message instead of the road, you’d have no time to react and prevent a catastrophic crash.
The solution is simple – put the phone down. But too many drivers just don’t think their text messages can wait.
42% of drivers think the message is important.
9% of drivers report texting behind the wheel because the message is work-related.
8% of drivers admit to texting behind the wheel for personal or social reasons.
But is a text message ever really important enough to risk your life and the lives of others around you? Can’t your boss or your coworker wait until you get home or find a safe place to pull over? Won’t your friend understand if you don’t respond immediately because you were on the road?
If you struck another car and killed an innocent person because you picked up your phone to check a text message, is there anything on the screen that would make you feel better about watching, say, a parent desperately trying to reach an unresponsive infant in a car seat or frantically performing CPR on a preschooler?
What it means for passengers
Statistically speaking, many passengers text behind the wheel themselves when they drive. But as a passenger, they tend to view driver distraction more critically.
86% of people indicate that they would feel very unsafe if their driver was sending a text message while driving.
Maybe it’s that (ridiculously inaccurate) bias that other people are worse at texting and driving that really makes the danger hit home when our lives are in someone else’s distracted hands.
What can be done to prevent texting and driving?
Texting and driving accidents are preventable. Every single one of them.
There are many ways to approach reducing the number of texting and driving accidents. But a multifaceted solution, including technological, legislative, and educational efforts, may well prove to be the most effective.
Increases in technological innovation allow for new ways to prevent phone use while driving.
Many smartphones now come with built-in “Do Not Disturb While Driving” features
Cars that use Bluetooth technology can read incoming text messages – an innovation that has been around for almost a decade. Knowing the content of the incoming message answers that question of whether or not it is important and allows drivers to prepare to pull over to send a response or to make a hands-free call.
Changing the law could result in a drop in distracted driving rates..
In the U.K., it’s illegal to hold your phone while driving – period.
This is only true for 16 states in the U.S., even though texting and driving is illegal nationally. More consistent regulations and stricter enforcement could dissuade motorists from using their devices in any distracting manner behind the wheel.
Ultimately, the decision to text and drive comes down to the individual. Educating the youth is critical in reducing texting and driving rates.
Drivers under 30 are most likely to text and drive. Educating young people on the dangers of texting and driving and on the inability for any motorist to do both effectively can reduce the problem now and in the years to come.
How can you break the texting and driving habit?
In today’s fast-paced world, there’s so much pressure to respond immediately to every message or notification that we often pick up the phone out of habit.
It’s a less than ideal habit even when you’re not behind the wheel, but when driving, this behavior poses a real physical health risk to everyone on the road.
If you’re guilty of texting while driving, there’s no better time to start breaking this habit than right now. (It might just save your life!) Here are some ways to help yourself avoid reaching for the phone when your eyes should be on the road and your hands should be on the wheel.
Turn on “Do Not Disturb” while driving.
Keep your phone out of reach to minimize temptation.
Use an app to block phone calls and texts while driving.
Pull over if you need to send a text.
Mount your phone on your dashboard if you’re using it for navigation, and don’t switch between apps or visually check for incoming notifications.
If you’ve been injured …
Sometimes the worst thing happens and you’ve found yourself injured in a car accident because someone else was too distracted by their phone. Whether you were the passenger of the at-fault driver or the other driver was at fault, you are now dealing with the devastating aftermath of a car crash: painful injuries, mounting medical bills and insurance adjusters clamoring for a quick settlement for a fraction of what you really need. We’re here to help you navigate the situation and get you the care and compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call our car accident attorneys to get your questions answered, and rest assured that if you have a case, you’ll pay no fees out of pocket. Our No Fee Promise means we don’t get paid until we win for you.
Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances. This website is designed for general information only. No aspect of this website has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. The information on this site should not be construed as formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney client relationship.