Texting while you are driving is more than just a poor decision, it’s dangerous and costly. Sending a text on a cell phone is just one example of distracted driving, a category of behavior that accounts for up to 80% of all automobile accidents according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Distracted driving costs are simply too high to risk it.
What is distracted driving? Distracted driving happens every time someone is involved in another activity while driving a vehicle. Which means that you are a distracted driver any time you take your eyes off the road or have your attention on something other than driving.
Right now an estimated 660,000 drivers are using their cell phones and other electronic devices while they are driving, and those who are texting are taking their eyes off the road for an average of five seconds each time they send a message. That’s long enough to drive the length of a football field if they are travelling at 55 mph, all while looking at their phones instead of the road.
Who Is at Risk?
Young drivers are at the highest risk. Drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 average more than 100 texts sent per day. This, paired with their lack of experience behind the wheel, increases the chances that young drivers will get into accidents. In fact, the highest proportion of deadly crashes are caused by teen drivers, who are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly accident than are drivers over the age of 20. Medical costs from accidents caused by drivers under the age of 25 reach over $25 billion dollars every year according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Even more tragic, seven teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 die each day from automobile accidents. How many of those lives could have been saved if the drivers weren’t distracted?
Distracted Driver Prevention
Habits are hard to break, which means the decision to put down the phone might be easier said than done. How tempting is it to send that one text in reply to a friend asking what time you will be there, to let her know you are on the way?
If you think you really need to send that text, one of the simplest things to do is to pull over to the side of the road before you reply. Using voice to text is still distracted driving, so making use of that feature doesn’t make it safe to text on the road.
Even when you do pull over to text, you still have to take your eyes off the road to read the message in the first place, which is never a good idea. An easier way to help keep yourself from texting is to use text blocking service that stops incoming texts or puts your phone on silent alert while you are in driving mode.
The smallest decision to stop the distraction while you drive can help keep you and your family safe on the road. By making that one decision, you are less likely to be involved in a car accident, less likely to go to the hospital with injuries and less likely to be killed.
“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” – Keri Russell