Several serious auto accidents in recent weeks are reminding Texas drivers that texting behind the wheel can have life-changing repercussions. This was the case this past Sunday when Montgomery County emergency crews responded to the scene of a car accident believed to have been caused by a driver who was texting. Unfortunately, these types of incidents happen frequently.
According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), cell phone use was responsible for 23% of all traffic accidents in 2011, totaling 1.3 million collisions. In the amount of time it takes to send or receive a text, a car moving 55 mph will travel the entire length of a football field. In fact, the NHTSA names texting while driving one of the most dangerous behind-the-wheel distractions because it requires the driver's visual, mental, and manual attention.
Texting Compared to Other Distractions
Other forms of driver distraction include:
- Talking on the Phone
- Loud Music
- GPS Devices
- Applying Makeup
Any distraction is dangerous, but texting increases the driver's chance of causing an accident by 23 times. Dialing, talking / listing on the phone, and reaching for the device increase the likelihood of an accident no more than 2.8 times, studies suggest.
Who is at risk?
52% of drivers in the United States claim that they have talked on the phone while driving. 34% admit to texting behind the wheel. 13% of young drivers involved in car accidents said that they were using their phone to text or talk before the collision.
But some young people don't believe that texting and driver is actually dangerous. As many as 77% of young drivers said they were "somewhat confident" that they could drive safely while texting; another 55% said that texting while driving is "easy."
In reality, texting behind the wheel is a serious risk. Not only does the driver put him / herself in danger, but he / she risks the safety of other drivers and passengers on the road as well. In fact, a driver who texts will spend about 10% of his / her driving time outside of their designated lane.
While many states have laws that prohibit drivers from using phones behind the wheel, the penalties for these offense are minor compared the risk of a fatal car accident.