How Dangerous is Using Your Mobile Phone While Driving?

As you know, Californians need to be “hands free”.  Why?  Because it is dangerous to drive while texting and using a cell phone.  If you check the statistics they show that at any given time throughout the day, approximately 660,000 drivers are in some fashion, attempting to use their phones while behind the wheel of an automobile. Back when I was a kid, it was hard enough trying to maneuver the radio much less navigate through a phone.  Well, smartphones have made it easy for us to stay connected at all times through email, texting and internet but all of this technology has distracted people and make it hard to focus on just 1 task at hand. That task being driving. Cell phone distraction rates are alarmingly high and come with hefty fines if caught using your phone behind the wheel. Here are a few statistics that may alarm you:

  • The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.
  • Nearly 330,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving.
  • 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.
  • Texting while driving is 6x more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.
  • Answering a text takes away your attention for about five seconds. Traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to travel the length of a football field.
  • Texting while driving causes a 400% increase in time spent with eyes off the road.
  • Of all cell phone related tasks, texting is by far the most dangerous activity.
  • 94% of drivers support a ban on texting while driving.
  • 74% of drivers support a ban on hand-held cell phone use.

How do teen drivers fall into these statistics?

  • 11 teens die every day as a result of texting while driving.
  • According to a AAA poll, 94% of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, but 35% admitted to doing it anyway.
  • 21% of teen drivers involved in fatal accidents were distracted by their cell phones.
  • Teen drivers are 4x more likely than adults to get into car crashes or near-crashes when talking or texting on a cell phone.
  • A teen driver with only one additional passenger doubles the risk of getting into a fatal car accident. With two or more passengers, they are 5x as likely.

2012 U.S. Cell Phone and Driving Statistics

  • In 2012, 3,328 people were killed in distraction-related crashes.
  • About 421,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.
  • In 2012, 11% of drivers under age 20 involved in fatal accidents were reported to be distracted at the time of the crash.
  • 1/4 of teenagers respond to at least one text message every time they drive and 20% of teens and 10% of parents report having multi-text message conversations while driving.

2012 National Survey on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors

  • Nearly half (48%) of drivers admit to answering their cell phones while driving.
  • Of those who answered their phones while driving, 58% of drivers continued to drive while talking on the phone.
  • In the survey, 24% of drivers reported that they are willing to make a phone call while driving.
  • One in 10 drivers surveyed said that, at least sometimes, they send text messages or emails while driving.
  • Of the drivers surveyed, 14% said they read text messages or emails while driving.
  • A majority of respondents supported laws that banned talking on cell phones, texting, or emailing while driving.

What if I am a Pedestrian?  How dangerous is it to text while walking?According to Researchers conducting a study from the University of Washington in 2012, it can be.  They monitored 20 of Seattle’s busiest intersections and observed the following:

  • Pedestrians who text are 4x less likely to look before crossing the street, cross in crosswalks, or obey traffic signals.
  • They also found that texting pedestrians take an average of two seconds longer to cross the street.

Not only is it dangerous to text while driving but walking and texting is dangerous too.  I have had patients run into polls, get hit by a passing bicycle and even get hit by a car.  If you are going to use your phone, take the time to either pull to the side of the road or if not in a car, find an area that is safe.