We all know by now that texting while driving is dangerous. And yet, 31% of adults admit to reading or sending text messages or emails while driving. In 2018, 2.1% of all drivers and 4.2% of drivers between 16-24 years old were observed texting or otherwise manipulating hand-held devices.
Often referred to as “distracted driving,” auto crashes involving texting or other activity on smartphones are believed to be dramatically under reported, although 1.6 million crashes each year are reported due to using a phone while driving.
Why? Typing or reading text messages significantly slows reaction time, increases lane deviations, and increases the length of time drivers look away from the roadway. One study indicated that crash risk was 2-6 times greater when drivers were manipulating a cell phone compared with when they were not distracted. Despite being under reported, the numbers show that texting while driving can cost people millions of dollars, injure, and even kill people.
The least worrisome consequence of distracted driving is the cost in damages after accidents. Distracted driving accounts for $129 billion or 15 percent of the overall societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes. These costs include items such as productivity losses, property damage, medical and rehabilitation costs, congestion costs, legal and court costs, emergency services, insurance administration costs and costs to employers.
This means that the least harm you can do by texting and driving is costing you and others significant dollars in damages, not to mention potential increases in auto insurance rate increases. Additionally, drivers typically receive sizable tickets when caught as texting while driving is illegal in 48 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
More alarming than the financial cost of distracted driving is the physical harm it causes. An estimated 400,000 people were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2018, 15% of all the injured people).
Though we know these cases are drastically under repoterted, an estimated 33,000 people were injured in 2018 in crashes involving cell phone use or other cell-phone related activities (8% of all people injured in distraction affected crashes).
The scariest fact of all is that texting and driving kills. In 2018 alone, 2,841 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers and 14% of fatal crashes involve cell phones. This can include using apps, sending emails, and any other function on your phone that takes away your focus on the road.
Additionally alarming statistics show pedestrians are often victims of distracted drivers. About 1 in 5 of the people who died in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2018 were not in vehicles―they were walking, riding their bikes, or otherwise outside a vehicle.
While distracted driving can happen at any age, drivers 15 to 19 years old are the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the fatal crashes, about 8 percent.
Teens already experience a higher rate of collisions, both serious and minor. Why? Teenagers are more likely than adults to underestimate or be unable to recognize dangerous situations. In 2018, almost 2,500 teens in the United States aged 13–19 were killed, and about 285,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes, making motor vehicle crashes the second leading cause of death for U.S. teens.
It Stops With You
How do we end this dangerous activity? STOP! You’ve got to put an end to driving while:
- Ordering food or items
- Taking pictures
- Using apps
- Watching videos
- Looking for music/podcasts
- Downloading media
- Playing games
- Looking things up
These activities are for your passenger or for when you’re parked (no, not just stopped at a light. Parked.) There are even apps now to help you avoid cell phone use while driving. Some apps will actually disable themselves or show a warning if they know you are driving.
If you are a passenger in a car with a distracted driver, speak up and ask the driver to focus on driving. If you are a parent, set an example by keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel while driving.
When inside your vehicle, have a place where your phone goes so that you can reach it in an emergency but you won’t be tempted to read or send messages while you’re driving. Newer cars with bluetooth capability can also help drivers stay connected without looking at their device.
Finding affordable collision insurance for teens can seem downright impossible. Get a fair auto insurance quote for your high-risk driver online or by calling us at 800-777-5620. You can also get a quote at one of our local Freeway offices.