Dangers of texting while driving

Posted in Auto

Would you ever drive the length of a football field at 55 mph blindfolded? Well that’s essentially what you’re doing when texting while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting behind the wheel takes a driver’s eye off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which is the time it takes to go from one end zone to the other. Dangerous? Incredibly. Deadly? You bet. Texting while driving has now replaced drinking and driving as the leading cause of death among teenage drivers.

Teenagers are not the only ones guilty. According to a survey conducted by AT&T, 49 percent of American adult drivers admitted they text while driving. In that same survey, more than 90 percent of drivers know texting while driving is dangerous. So why are we still doing it? Experts believe we compulsively check our phones because every time we get an alert on our phone our brain sends out a signal that makes us feel happy. Drivers are saying they continue to do this because it’s a habit, like to stay connected and it makes them feel more productive.

States are now enforcing strict texting while driving laws and public service like AT&T’s campaign It Can Wait are working hard to educate the public on the dangers and consequences.

Here are some stats and tips on how we can end texting while driving:

Disturbing stats

  • More than 3,000 teens die each year in crashes caused by texting while driving (autosafety.com)
  • Cell phones are involved in 1.6 million auto crashes each year that cause a half million injuries and take 6,000 lives (United States Department of Transportation)
  • Truck drivers are 23 times more likely to be in an accident when texting behind the wheel
  • It’s estimated that 40 percent of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that puts people in danger (National Safety Council)
  • Women are more likely than men to reach for their cell phones while driving (National Occupant Protection Use)
  • 48 percent of young drivers have seen their parents text while driving (Consumer Reports)
  • Using a cell phone while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent (National Safety Council)

How you can help

  • Lead by example
    • Don’t send or respond to a text message while driving or at a red light; doing so puts you and others at risk and may even be against the law
    • Turn off your phone and put it in your pocket or purse; only use it when the car is in park
  • Always stay focused on the road when driving
  • Speak out if you are in the car with someone who is texting behind the wheel
  • Spread the word to promote safety in your community

Texting while driving will cost you

  • Wisconsin’s inattentive driving law prohibits drivers from texting behind the wheel; the penalty for a first offense is as high as $400 and a four-point deduction; get caught a second time and you’ll pay up to $800
  • Minnesota’s texting laws prohibits drivers from texting behind the wheel; the law also prohibits sending ‘electronic messages’ and includes but is not limited to email, instant message, a command or request to access the internet; penalty for a first offense is $300
  • Iowa’s inattentive driving law prohibits drivers from texting behind the wheel; the penalty for a first offense is as high as $1,000 for causing a serious accident
  • It’s very easy for law enforcement to subpoena a cell phone company and check your account to see if you were texting
  • Such fines may also increase your auto insurance premiums

Apps

  • AT&T developed the DriveMode app for iPhones which silences incoming texts alerts and turns on automatically when the car is moving at 15 mph or more; the app alerts the sender of the text that the recipient is driving; it even alerts parents if a young driver disables the app
  • Android users have the ability to download the TxtShield app for $1.99 which blocks emails, browsing and common calling (except 911) whenever the car is moving more than 10 mph

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