Texting and driving is something that we hear a lot about, especially since several states have passed “Hands-free Driving” laws. Texting and driving is something that might seem pretty harmless – you’ll only look at the screen for a second, right? But the thing is that the dangers and the statistics about texting and driving don’t lie. We’re going to go over some of the stats and risks of distracted driving, and we’ll also talk about texting and driving and your car insurance rates.
Texting and driving: The statistics.
The numbers give us a picture of just how dangerous distracted driving can be. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the following statistics:
- 3,450 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2016.
- 391,000 people were injured in accidents involving distracted driving in 2015.
- An estimated 481,000 drivers were using cell phones at any given moment during daylight hours in the US in 2016.
But that’s not all. The CDC reports that:
- Every day about 9 people are killed every day in accidents that involve distracted driving.
- About 1,000 are injured every day in distracted driving accidents.
So, it’s clear that distracted driving can significantly increase the odds of being in a car accident, and that car accident could be severe.
The car keeps moving even if you’re not looking.
A car can’t think for itself. It’s a machine. While you might be convinced your car has its own personality, it’s just going to do what it’s told – whether or not your eyes are looking where you’re headed. The car doesn’t care if you’re busy looking at a text or typing a message.
To illustrate just how far you can travel when reading a text message, check out this quick math:
It takes about 5 seconds to read and/or send a text message. If you’re going 40 miles per hour down the road, you’ll travel 293 feet in that time. That’s just shy of the length of a football field. If you’re going faster, say, 55 miles per hour, you’ll travel about 400 feet in 5 seconds. And that’s one football field…and a third of another football field. Consider that you’re essentially driving blindfolded during that time and the picture becomes pretty scary.
Texting and driving impairs your reaction time, too. If you’re constantly glancing down, you won’t be able to react quickly to unforeseen changes in traffic or road conditions – a red light, a curve in the road, a sudden stop in traffic, a pedestrian crossing the street. You need your full attention on the road to be able to react quickly and safely to any of these things, and you can’t do that if you’re not looking where you’re going.
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Why is texting so distracting?
There are three different types of distraction – visual, manual, and cognitive. Visual distractions take your eyes off the road. Manual distractions take your hands off the wheel. Cognitive distractions take your mind away from driving. And guess what fits the bill of all three of these distractions at once? Texting.
If you’re not looking where you’re going, not controlling the car with both hands, and not focusing on driving, that doesn’t make for a very safe ride. For yourself or for the other drivers who are sharing the road with you.
Some states have banned handheld electronic devices behind the wheel.
Texting and driving is completely banned in 47 states and the District of Colombia because it’s so dangerous. In many of these states, cell phone laws are primary laws, meaning that a police officer doesn’t have to see any other violations in order to pull you over and cite you for using a handheld cell phone while driving.
Sixteen states have gone even further to prevent distracted driving and have outlawed handheld electronic devices behind the wheel. That means that drivers can’t hold a phone (even to talk on it) while driving. The states that have enacted “hands-free” laws are:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- West Virginia
- *Handheld phones are also banned in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
So, aside from safety, there are other potential consequences of distracted driving. You could also get in trouble with law enforcement if you get caught texting and driving or talking on a handheld device.
The possible consequences to your car insurance rates.
Distracted driving, as we’ve pointed out, increases your chances of getting into an accident. And if you’re in an accident, your car insurance rates could go up. There are a lot of factors that influence car insurance premiums, but your driving history is something that many carriers look at. If you’ve got a record of traffic violations or accidents, you’ll probably end up paying quite a bit for your insurance because you’re seen as being more of a risk of having another accident. Insurance companies tend to reward safe drivers with lower rates because they’re seen as being less “risky” to insure and less likely to file a claim. So, you can save money on car insurance by driving safe.
So, before you reach for your phone to just glance at that text, think about how much you’re already paying for car insurance. Do you want that rate to go up? Because it very well could if you get into an accident because of texting and driving.
Above are some compelling reasons to leave the phone alone while driving. Yes, it might be extremely tempting to look at the phone while you’re driving, but remember that those seconds can make a huge difference. It might not seem like a big deal. Maybe you’ve done it before and nothing bad happened. But that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t in the future. Isn’t it better not to take that chance?
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