The Real Dangers Of Texting And Driving

Published on
June 8, 2023

Texting and driving has become an unfortunate reality for all of us on the road. Even if you’re not the one sneaking a glance while on the road—at a red light, in the middle of bumper-to-bumper traffic, etc—other drivers are.
The use of smartphones, while offering countless benefits in communication and entertainment, also introduces hazards when mixed with everyday activities like driving. This blog post aims to shed light on the dangers of distracted driving, especially texting while driving, and explore how we can combat this growing issue together.

What’s Distracted Driving?

Before we dive into the specifics of texting while driving, let's first understand the broader issue at hand: distracted driving.

Distracted driving is caused by anything that takes attention away from a driver focusing on the road. This includes eating, talking to passengers, adjusting the radio, and, of course, using a cell phone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), distractions can be classified into three categories: those that take your eyes off the road (visual), those that take your hands off the wheel (manual), and those that take your mind off driving (cognitive). Texting while driving is particularly dangerous as it incorporates all three types of distractions.

A Visual Distraction

Firstly, it's a visual distraction. When you're reading a text or typing out a reply, your eyes aren't on the road. Even a few seconds spent looking at your phone instead of the road can have serious consequences.

A Manual Distraction

Secondly, it's a manual distraction. Sending a text requires you to take at least one hand off the steering wheel. This reduces your control over the vehicle and your ability to respond quickly to changing road conditions or unexpected hazards.

A Cognitive (“Thinking”) Distraction

Lastly, it's a cognitive distraction. When you're texting, your focus isn't fully on driving. You're thinking about the message, the response, or other notifications that pop up while you’re texting. This divided attention means you're less likely to notice critical moments, cues, and warnings on the road.

So, you see, texting while driving isn't just a minor distraction—it's a triple threat that greatly increases the risk of an accident.

The Risks of Texting While Driving

The dangers of texting while driving are serious. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims that sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds. When driving at a speed of 45mph, you're virtually "sightless driving" for the equivalent distance of over four NBA basketball courts laid end to end.

The Impact on Your Car Insurance Rates

Aside from endangering lives, texting while driving also poses a financial risk. Most car insurance companies increase premiums for drivers caught texting or engaging in distracted driving, viewing them as a liability due to their increased likelihood of being involved in an accident.

Is It As Dangerous As Drunk Driving?

You might be surprised to learn that, according to some studies, texting while driving can be as dangerous. Not as dangerous as drunk driving, however, it's still a concern.

Both significantly impair driving skills and increase the risk of accidents. Whereas drunk driving causes millions of deaths each year, distracted driving causes 30,000 accidents a year. And 10% (3,000) of those average crashes are from texting.

Source CDC:

Legal Aspects of Distracted Driving

So here's the deal—laws are getting pretty serious about cutting down on the dangers of distracted driving, and they're popping up all across the country. They aim to prevent drivers from using their phones while driving and promote overall road safety.

What's up with Cellphone Laws?

Many states have set up laws about when and how you can use your phone when you're driving. It's a mixed bag, really. Some states are super strict and don't want you holding your phone at all when you're behind the wheel. Others are a bit more lenient, allowing you to use your phone hands-free (with a mount on the dashboard), or when you're not actually moving, like at a red light.

Texting Bans: What You Need to Know

Most places have said a big "no" to texting while driving. Get caught, and you could be expected to pay a hefty fine. If you're a serial texter, it gets worse—some states might even suspend your license. And remember, this doesn't only apply to just texting—it's usually any form of text communication, like emailing or scrolling through social media.

Young-Driver Phone Use Bans

Young or new drivers are especially at risk when it comes to distracted driving. This has led many states to completely ban cellphone use for drivers under a certain age or those with a provisional license. It's all about helping young drivers create the right driving habits.

Having these laws is great, but they need to be enforced to make a real difference. This is why we see campaigns like "U Drive. U Text. U Pay." popping up—it's all about reminding everyone about the very real consequences of distracted driving.

The bottom line? It's important to know your local laws, to avoid penalties and, more importantly, to keep the roads safe.

Combating Distracted Driving: Monitoring Your Habits

With the dangers clear, what can be done to combat distracted driving?

Education, legislation, and technology are key in the fight against texting and driving. There are innovative technologies being developed that can disable texts and calls when they detect the phone is in a moving vehicle (“driving mode” with Apple’s Do Not Disturb mode is an example).

Self-awareness is also crucial in combating texting while driving. Apps are available that can help monitor your cellphone use while driving and provide feedback to help you change your habits.

Remember, it's not just about protecting yourself but also about ensuring the safety of everyone else on the road. Let's work together to make our roads safer.

About the Author: This article was crafted by the LOOP Marketing Team. Comprising of seasoned professionals with expertise in the insurance industry, our team is dedicated to providing readers with accurate, up-to-date, and valuable information. At LOOP, we're passionate about helping families navigate the world of car insurance, ensuring they get the best coverage at the most affordable rates. Learn more about our mission and values here.

For more insights on auto insurance and other related topics, visit our blog.

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