21% of all drivers admit to texting while driving at any given time while 6.4% text while driving regularly. If these numbers are not alarming to you, understand that over 15% of drivers between the ages of 16 and 34 text fairly often while driving which means that with the passing of years, the percentage of those who text while driving in older age groups will inevitably rise. This poses a huge risk for all drivers, passengers, pedestrians and even those surrounded by four walls as the number of inattentive drivers continues to increase around us.
Those who drive drunk are 4 times more likely to cause an accident. Those who drive while texting are 8 times more likely to cause an accident. These are some of the more shocking numbers research has produced but these numbers do not lie. A separate study conducted by Car and Driver Magazine demonstrated that sending a text while driving 70mph adds 70 feet to the braking distance. In comparison, the same study found that a driver who is legally drunk only adds 4 feet of stopping distance. Note: These findings in no way downplay the seriousness of drinking and driving since driving under the influence presents a wealth of other risks in addition to the inability to stop a moving vehicle.
According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 1.6 million accidents are caused by cell phone usage and texting. Of those the Council estimates that 200,000 crashes are caused yearly by drivers who text while driving. What is even more sobering is that an estimated 16,000 deaths are attributed to text messaging while driving from 2001 to 2007 and the fatalities are rising each year. The problem is now becoming an epidemic.
These alarming statistics have enough of a story to tell on their own, but the following is something of relevance from my own experience.
A True Story – “The Pole Just Came Out of Nowhere”
In my entire life, I had never stood close to the scene of an accident until one night I came upon what appeared to be two high school students frantic and scared while pacing around a brand new sedan that just had a frontal collision with a telephone pole. The uninjured driver was anxious yet eager to tell me that using his cell phone had distracted him along this narrow and winding road and that the pole just came out of nowhere. This accident occurred nearly three years ago, when hand-held communication devices were in full swing and seemingly everyone in all age-groups was busy communicating via texting at all times of the day. The problem of texting while driving existed then. The problem is even bigger now.
NSC estimates 1.6 million crashes caused by cell phone use and texting
Trends in Fatalities From Distracted Driving in the United States, 1999 to 2008
Texting While Driving: How Dangerous is it? – Feature