Distracted Driving/Texting While Driving Statistics
Distracted driving is when a driver participates in any activity that takes their attention away from the road and causes them to lose focus on driving. These activities may include eating, putting on makeup, fixing one’s hair, attending to other passengers, listening to music or podcasts, adjusting the radio, talking on the phone, or texting. Texting, of course, is the newest threat to drivers and pedestrians, only appearing as a problem to road safety within the last twenty years or so.
Texting while driving disproportionately affects younger drivers who often feel more comfortable using their phones. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, found that handheld cell phone use was highest among 16- to 24-year-old drivers and lowest among drivers older than 70. Of course, anyone and everyone is put in danger by distracted driving. Even the most tech-savvy person cannot pay full attention to the road while looking at their phone screen for even a few seconds. In the time it takes to glance down at a phone, a car can travel the length of a football field if it is moving at highway speeds.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017, 8% of people who were killed in crashes involving teenagers aged 15-19 died because of distracted driving. Of these fatalities, around half–52%–were teens themselves.
The NHTSA also reports that 10% of all fatal car accidents have been due to distracted drivers over the last six years. Considering the number of fatal car accidents each year and the number of reasons a car accident could take place, this percentage points to a very high number of deaths.
The number of people who have been hurt or killed due to distracted driving over the last few years is significant. The NHTSA reports that 20,000 people have been killed in distracted driving accidents between 2012 and 2017.
Are Public Safety Awareness Campaigns Working?
The good news is that movements to create awareness for the dangers of distracted driving–specifically texting while driving–might be working. The NHTSA recorded a staggering 9% fatality decrease from distracted driving accidents between 2016 and 2017. Texas’ statistics followed a similar pattern. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2017, 449 people were killed in crashes involving distracted driving in Texas. This number is a 2% decrease from 2016.
Teen-specific fatal crashes have also shown a decrease over time. In 2010, 403 people died on the road because of distracted teen drivers in the United States. In 2017, that number had dropped by over 100 people to reach 297. Some of this may also have to do with the fact that the youngest millennials aged out of the teenage bracket during this time and were replaced by Generation Z, who grew up with more knowledge of the dangers of texting and driving. In fact, a multitude of reasons has recently begun to make the statistics surrounding distracted driving more encouraging. Because people use their phones in the car so often for navigation and listening to music or podcasts, mounted device-holders have become popular. These types of innovations make navigation safer and easier for people who might have previously held their phone in their hand while they drove. It is still dangerous to look at your phone for any period of time while driving, but it is much better to glance at a screen on your dashboard than to hold it in your hand, looking up and down between it and the road. Even safer is enabling your navigation system to talk to you over a speaker.
Another, more major improvement to road safety is the fact that many states have enacted laws that ban certain cell phone usage while driving, including Texas. Texan law regarding cell phone use while driving is as follows:
- Drivers can’t send or receive text messages
- Drivers 18 or younger can’t use “wireless communications devices” of any kind.
- Drivers with learner’s permits can’t use handheld cell phones at all within their first six months.
- All Texas drivers are banned from using handheld cell phones in school zones.
- School bus drivers can’t use cell phones while transporting children.
Specific cities may have their own rules about cell phone use, which is important to note while traveling. Many cities have enacted hands-free driving laws in the last few years following concern about distracted driving accidents, which often cause injuries or fatalities. Corpus Christi passed a hands-free driving law in 2013, a few years before some other major Texas cities came on-board. Corpus Christi ordinance specifies that a “hands-free” device means it can be used without needing to be touched, either through speakerphone capabilities or attachments through the car itself. This type of cell phone use is allowed, but all other types of usage are banned.
These improvements to traffic safety will hopefully continue to make distracted driving less of a threat to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. It will take more time and data to tell if the few recent improvements to distracted driving statistics are a fluke or not, but hopefully, with more awareness of the dangers of using a cell phone while driving and more laws being enforced, these numbers will continue to look up.
At Brunkenhoefer, P.C. Injury Attorneys, we have fought on behalf of injured individuals in Corpus Christi and the surrounding areas to help recover the compensation they deserve for their car accident claim. We are committed to helping you in your time of need. Contact us at (361) 888-8808 to discuss the specifics of your case today.