Texting and driving. We all know it’s wrong, and yet … many of us do it anyway. Maybe it’s just one quick “OMW!” to your friend you’re meeting at the restaurant. Or you want to double-check directions. But anytime you take your eyes off the road, you’re asking for trouble.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) defines “distracted driving” as “any activity that diverts attention from driving.” This includes eating or drinking, changing your music, swiping your nav system, grooming, and yes, of course … talking or texting on your phone. The NHTSA confirms that texting is the “most alarming” of these distracted behaviors.
Here are some sobering texting and driving statistics you need to know:
- Distracted driving claimed more than 3,000 lives in 2017 alone.
- At any given moment during daytime hours in 2017, nearly 500,000 drivers were handling their cell phones or other electronic devices while driving in the U.S.
- You are nearly 3 times more likely to get into an accident when distracted by a cell phone while driving. This is old so we can take out if too old?
- Twenty percent of drivers ages 18 to 20 don’t believe that texting affects their driving and that rises to 30% of drivers ages 21 to 34.
- Taking your eyes off the road for even 5 seconds — the average length of a short text — means that your car will have traveled the length of a football field at 55 mph. Wow.
- In one simulator test, teens who were texting spent 400% more time with their eyes off of the road than when undistracted.
- There is some evidence that distracted driving might even be underreported.
Convinced texting and driving is a bad idea? We thought you might be. But sometimes it’s easier said than done. Here’s how to turn your fear into lasting action.
1. Remove the temptation.
You know you shouldn’t text and drive, but we get it … that bing bing that you have a message is so alluring.
The only way to avoid the siren song of your notifications? Turn your phone off. Off, off. Or hide it in the trunk where it’s inaccessible. Knowing that you can’t reach your phone will remove all temptation, and ensure that you don’t become a future texting and driving statistic.
2. Make a pledge.
If you’re a parent of a teen, vow to set a good example yourself by turning that phone off, and then go a step further and have them sign a pledge to never drive while texting. Here is the one recommended by the NHTSA:
The fight to end distracted driving starts with you. Make the commitment to drive phone-free today.
- Protect lives by never texting or talking on the phone while driving.
- Be a good passenger and speak out if the driver in my car is distracted.
- Encourage my friends and family to drive phone-free.
3. Scare yourself straight.
This video, part of the “Famous Last Words” campaign by the NHTSA is guaranteed to help you think twice. Watch it. Then watch it again.
4. Pull over.
And if you must make a call to tell someone you’re late, pull over before.
While a lot of technology in today’s cars makes us all safer, anytime you use technology behind the wheel, you are putting yourself and others at risk. Bottom line: your text message can wait.