11 teenage drivers are killed each day as result of texting and driving.
There are more than 1.5 million vehicle crashes each year caused by distracted drivers using their cellphones that result in about 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries. Texting while driving accounts for about 25% of all vehicle crashes in this country and is the leading cause of death among teens – 11 teenage drivers are killed each day as result of texting and driving.
Many states, including Massachusetts, have laws banning texting while driving. Some states have outlawed the use of handheld cellphones while driving altogether. Despite the crackdown, using cellphones while driving – particularly texting or answering emails – is still a major problem.
Why is Texting and Driving Dangerous?
- Texting while operating a vehicle increases the chance of a crash by 23 times
- Instead of watching the road, the driver’s eyes are looking at messages
- The driver’s mind is focused on reading or sending a message, not on driving
- If you’re driving 55 mph while texting, your vehicle will travel the length of a football field without looking at the road
- A study shows that while sending a text, the driver’s eyes are looking away from road for 5 seconds
Texting vs. Drunk Driving
An experiment by Car and Driver magazine in 2010 showed that texting and driving may actually be worse than driving while intoxicated.
In the experiment, drivers were required to stop at 70 mph and the stopping distance was measured. A legally drunk driver’s stopping distance increased by four feet over a sober driver. While reading an email, it took another driver an additional 36 feet to stop. Texting while driving added 70 feet to the stopping distance.
Why Do Drivers Text?
According to a survey, 23% of drivers said they text because they feel they may miss something important and 43% said they wanted to stay connected with friends and family.
There’s an App for That
There are several apps that allow the driver to keep both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road while still being able to receive a text.
DriveMode – From AT&T automatically kicks in when the vehicle is traveling at more than 25 mph and responds to all emails and texts by sending a message to the sender that the recipient is driving and will respond later.
DriveOff – For Android phones that disables apps and blocks incoming texts and calls when the vehicle is moving more than 10 mph.
DriveScribe – Blocks texts and calls when the vehicle is in motion. This app will also alert your teen driver if they are going too fast.
Although these apps greatly help cut down on distracted driving, the best thing to do is shut off the phone or put it in the trunk while driving. If you must text, respond to an email or make a call, pull into a parking lot or at the side of the road.
Distracted driving is not only risky, it can also be costly. Fines average $100 for texting and driving in many states. Alaska will fine a driver who texts and drive a whopping $10,000 – for the first offense.