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Texting and Driving Statistics

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Posted on March 21, 2014

Today, many of the news reports we see involving serious or fatal automobile accidents are caused by driver distraction. More specifically, a growing number of these traffic crashes are caused by texting and driving. While Florida lawmakers work to strengthen the existing secondary ban on texting while driving, it continues to a major contributor to auto accidents. Even in other states where texting while driving has been banned as a primary traffic offense, texting still sometimes contributes to catastrophic automobile accidents.

Texting while driving is among the leading forms of driver distraction which contributes to serious motor vehicle crashes. Texting while driving is now the leading cause of traffic fatalities among teenage drivers and passengers. A recent study has also revealed that teenage girls are more likely to text while driving than boys.

Texting and Driving Statistics – Understanding the Danger

A distracted driver whose focus is away from the road for even a split second faces much greater odds of colliding with another vehicle, a motorcycle, a bicyclist or even a pedestrian. Simply reading a text message takes at least 5 full seconds of a driver’s attention away from the road.

  • Any driver is at least twice as likely to crash if he/she reads or composes a text message while driving.
  • According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an automobile accident than driving when intoxicated.
  • In the 5 seconds it takes to read a short text message, a car covers a distance equal to the length of a football field if it is travelling at 55 miles per hour.
  • Of all cell phone related tasks – including talking, dialing, or reaching for the phone – research has proven that texting while driving exposes drivers to the greatest level of risk.
  • 78% of teens and young adults admit to having read an SMS or text message while driving.
  • Nearly 3,300 drivers are killed each year in texting and driving accidents – teenagers make up the majority of this figure.
  • 48% of young Americans from 12-17 say they’ve been in a car while the driver was texting.
  • 49% of drivers with cell phones under the age of 35 send or read text messages while driving.
  • 20% of teens and 10% of parents admit to holding ongoing, multi-message text conversations while driving.
  • 49% of adults say they have been passengers in a car when the driver was sending or reading text messages on their cell phone.
  • Texting while driving can increase the probability of a crash by as much as 23 times.

Definition of Driver Distraction

According to the CDC, driver distraction is broken down into three different categories:

  • Manual: Taking hands off the steering wheel
  • Visual: Taking eyes off of the road
  • Cognitive: Shifting the mind off of driving (daydreaming)

Alarmingly, texting while driving can potentially involve all three types of distraction at once –making it among the most dangerous types of driver distraction. A driver must take his/her eyes away from the road to read a message, he/she uses cognitive processes to read and process the text message, and the driver may also be manually distracted by clicking a key to read the message or by typing a reply to the text message.


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