In 2013, 3,154 people were killed and an estimated 424,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. Nearly one in five crashes (18%) in which someone was injured involved distracted driving.
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. Such activities include eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading, using a navigation system, watching a video, adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player, and of course using a cell phone or smartphone for talking or texting.
While any type of distraction can be dangerous, texting poses a greater threat because it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver.
As more drivers take their cell phones into their vehicles, distracted driving continues to grow as a traffic safety issue. Many states (including Wisconsin, see "Cell Phones, Driving, and the Law") have responded by enacting some sort of cell phone or texting ban.
Know the danger
These statistics are powerfully persuasive. Share them with your family and friends to promote safe driving habits.
- Using a cell phone while driving delays a driver’s reaction time as much as a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08%.
- A texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash than a nontexting driver.
- 5 seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. At 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field.
- 49% of drivers with cell phones under the age of 35 send or read text messages while driving.
- 40% of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger.
- 60% of drivers use cell phones while driving.
Tips to stay safe
Here are four ways to help you resist the temptation to use your cell phone and reduce the risk of an accident.
- Out of sight, out of mind. When you’re in the car, put your phone where you can’t get it, like the glove compartment. No phone. No texting.
- Silence is golden. Turn your phone off. The temptation to respond to incoming texts and calls will be eliminated if you don’t hear it.
- Find an app. An app can help you stop using your cell phone while driving. There are many solutions available. Some apps automatically kick in when the car starts rolling. Others simply help curb the urge to talk or text while driving. Some are free.
- Designate a texter. Pick a passenger to do your texting for you while you are behind the wheel.
Sources: Pew, AA, NHTSA, Harris Poll, University of Utah, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, CTIA