People do a lot of risky things while driving. Eating, applying makeup, trying to find the right radio station–all of these are considered distracted driving and all of them increase your risk of a serious car accident. But the greatest risk comes from texting and driving. Check out these frightening statistics about the most dangerous distraction on the road and what you can do to be a safer, less distracted driver.
Distracted While Driving
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Safety Association, car accidents involving distracted drivers resulted in 3,179 deaths and 431,000 injuries in 2014.
Texting is Distracted and Dangerous
The National Safety Council reported that texting and driving causes one out of every four car accidents in the United States. Texting while driving results in 1.6 million crashes and nearly 330,000 injuries.
Five Seconds is a Lifetime
According to a study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, when you text while driving you look away from the road for about five seconds. That doesn’t sound like a long time, but consider this: If you’re traveling at 55 miles per hour, five seconds is all it takes to travel the length of a football field.
Even if you brake as soon as you look up from your phone, your vehicle needs time to come to a complete stop. If you’re traveling 55 miles per hour and brake suddenly, your vehicle will travel an additional 170 feet before it stops. Looking away for a second can be the difference between a near miss and a serious collision.
A Generation of Distracted Drivers
According to research from the National Highway Safety Association, young drivers are at the greatest risk for distracted driving. Teens 15 to 19 years old make up the largest percentage of drivers who were distracted at the time of the crash. Ten percent of all fatal crashes in this age group are attributed to distracted driving.
Drivers in their 20s make up 38 percent of distracted drivers who were specifically using a cell phone in a fatal crash.
Teenagers and young adults are apt to think they’re good multi-taskers and swift to react. This may lead them to think texting and driving is safe for them. The reality is changes on the road happen in the blink of an eye and reaction times are slower when distracted.
How to Stop Texting and Driving
Texting while driving is a dangerously easy habit to start, but luckily, stopping it is also easy. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Talk to your children about good driving habits. Rather than just setting a rule and leaving it at that, explain to your kids the science behind the risk of texting and driving.
- Set a good example. If you don’t text and drive, your teenager is less likely to do it.
- Put your phone out of sight. Avoid the temptation to peek at text messages by putting your phone in your glove box, laptop bag or purse.
- Use hands-free devices, but only if you have to. From Bluetooth enabled vehicles to ear pieces, there are several good options available. But remember, hands-free isn’t risk-free. It isn’t enough to have your hands on the wheel–you need to have your mind on the road.
Phones are absolutely everywhere these days, and we’ve become accustomed to using them all day. There are some situations, like driving, where the risk to yourself and others makes answering a text, chat or email too big to ignore. Committing to putting down the phone while driving isn’t just a good idea, it may save your life or the life of someone else.