The handheld smartphone plays a large and paramount role in modern day society, and it has undoubtedly made life much easier for most people. However, smartphones and other handheld phones pose a significant public health risk behind the wheel. Distracted driving comes in a multitude of forms, however there are three main types of distracted driving according to the CDC: Visual, Manual, and Cognitive. In other words, taking your eyes off of the road, mind off of the road, or hands off of the wheel. When engaging in cell phone use while driving, most specifically texting, all three of these essential and important functions are disregarded. 

In order to better understand the dangers that texting while driving entail, it is necessary to take a look at some statistics that showcase the issue at hand.

Important Statistics and Facts

  • Hundreds of thousands of Americans are directly and indirectly affected by distracted driving and texting related accidents. Around 400,000 people per year are injured due to distracted driving, and around 3,000 people per year are killed. 
  • Teens are far more likely to be affected in distracted driving related crashes than adults. 
  • Texting and driving creates an increase in crashes by sixfold
  • 5 seconds of texting while driving at 55 miles per hour is equivalent to covering the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed. 
  • Some studies have been done comparing texting and driving to driving under the influence. Although both forms of distracted driving, driving under the influence does prove more dangerous than texting and driving.

Preventative Campaigns

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has put in time and effort into decreasing the frequency of cellphone use while driving. Most notably, the NHTSA’s campaign titled “U Drive. U Text. U Pay”, reminds drivers of all ages the potential ramifications of texting and driving. 48 states in America have created laws that prohibit texting and driving, and the NHTSA’s campaign highlights all of the possible financial, injury related, and sometimes deadly consequences.

Distracted Driving Awareness

Additionally, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently launched their Distracted Driving Coalition nationwide in 2021 in an effort to increase awareness, education, and promote new legislation to make the roads safer for all Americans. In the words of NTSB Vice Chairman, “In no other mode of transportation would we accept the kind of carnage that we have on our highways”. Although progress has been made in transportation legislation, the NTSB calls for a total ban of the use of personal devices while behind the wheel, and encourages all states to seriously consider enforcing such laws in order to save thousands of lives. 

Stay Vigilant and Resist the Urge to Text and Drive

In order to prevent texting related accidents, it is important to remember that texts, emails, and social media can wait while driving. Although it can be tempting to pick up the phone while behind the wheel, nothing on that device is worth more than your life or someone else’s.