Recently released studies have confirmed what we already know, but too often ignore: texting and driving is not a safe combination. Even though you’re 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash if you’re operating your cell phone while driving, many motorists still try to sneak out a text or two while commuting.
The New York Institute of Technology conducted a driving simulation study with students to show them how much their driving skills deteriorate when they try to text at the same time. One student accidentally ran over a dog, and she didn’t even end up successfully sending her text, making her actions a futile endeavor.
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety states that 11 teenagers die every day in crashes caused by texting. It causes 1.6 million accidents each year, yet drivers don’t realize that when they look down for a few seconds to read or send a text message, they’ve gone “the length of [a] football field blind,” according to Jim Clair from the Ultimate Defensive Driving School.
KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh conducted a similar driving test with teenagers to teach them about the dangers of texting while driving. Each young driver “felt a loss of control,” even while driving at a slow speed in an empty area. Pennsylvania enacted a texting ban over a year ago, and getting caught texting while driving results in a $50 fine plus court costs.
Teenagers, however, aren’t the only drivers guilty of texting when they should be watching the road. Adults are just as bad. 94-95% of teenagers report having seen their parents texting while driving at some point. Even drivers who think they’re being safer by taking a hands-off approach and using Siri or another voice-to-text program aren’t off the hook. Texas A&M’s Transportation Institute conducted a study and found that drivers were “roughly twice as slow to respond to events while texting, regardless of whether they were texting by voice or by typing.” They also spent nearly 10 seconds less time with their eyes focused on the road and its surroundings.
Even though there’s technology available to send text messages hands-free, that doesn’t mean it’s a safe action to perform while driving, as it can distract the driver from the more important task of paying attention while operating a motor vehicle. Still, as more studies are continually released emphasizing the safety risks of driving while texting, millions of Americans (young and old) are guilty of performing the task when they know better.