However, as our phones turn more and more into tiny supercomputers kept in our pockets or purses, they also become more likely to draw us in. People are becoming addicted to their technology, their constant connectedness, and their communication, and this is growing into a pretty huge hazard on the road.
For young drivers in particular, cell phone use while driving has been extremely impactful. 25% of teens, according to a study conducted at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, respond to a text message one or more times every time they get behind the wheel, and it’s this type of distracted driving causes an average of around 3,000 motor vehicle crash fatalities per year in the United States alone. In accidents resulting in teen driver fatalities, it was found that in 11% of all teen auto accident fatality cases, the teen who suffered the crash was using his or her cell phone immediately prior to its occurrence.
In another alarming statistic outlined here, in the year 2016, 10% of all distracted driving fatalities were experienced by teens, which is important to remember, is only a 3 year age range.
Those of you aged 16-19 were responsible for 10% of all distracted driving fatalities encompassing all demographics and age ranges, showing how a combination of distraction and inexperience is a really dangerous one.
Adult Distracted Driving Statistics
It’s absolutely not only teens who are the problem, and adults can be just as guilty of distracted driving. Where adults do have an advantage, however, is that they often have the experience to get themselves out of dangerous situations if they should begin to occur, or they know to put the phone down, but they still contribute to the ever-increasing number.
Drivers in their 20’s make up 27% of all distraction related auto accident fatalities, meaning the numbers do go down once a person is out of their teens, but that doesn’t mean it’s no longer a risk.
Distraction.gov, a resource that outlines statistics and risks of distracted driving is full of various facts related to how distracted driving has impacted today’s modern roadways, and seeing these in provable number form can really serve as a wakeup call.
It’s always a good idea to put the phone way while you’re behind the wheel, and this is something that we should be teaching kids especially. Online drivers ed can help to drive home the dangers of using a cell phone while teens are learning how to drive, and we think that this is a really great option.
As adults, we should know better than to distract ourselves while behind the wheel, but many teens may not realize how dire the consequences are, and online drivers ed can provide that wake-up call.
It’s Not Just Cell Phones
A common misconception is that as long as you’re not using your phone, you’re not really driving distracted. In truth, there are a ton of other activities that people do while trying to drive, and they’re all considered distracting yourself while behind the wheel.
These are practiced by teens and adults alike, and their dangers may not be fully realized until an accident happens. A few non-cell phone related distracted driving practices are:
- Eating and drinking – You may think that having your breakfast on the car ride in to work is no big deal, but you’re actually distracting yourself pretty heavily while trying to drive. Managing a sandwich, or dropping a utensil, while driving will take your attention away from where it should be – on the road.
- Chatting with passengers – Of course your car rides don’t have to be silent, but you should make sure that you’re paying more attention to the road than you are your conversations. Don’t look away from the road to converse with others in the car, and make sure your driving remains your top attention priority.
- Grooming – Putting on makeup, combing your hair, and doing other grooming things behind the wheel is also a huge common distraction. Men and women alike are guilty of this habit, and it’s better to be a few minutes late than risk getting into an accident by finishing your routine in the car!
- Adjusting the music – If you have to dig through an MP3 player, look through a CD book, or reset the radio programming in the car while driving, it’s simply not worth it. Choose your music before you get on the road, or while you’re stopped somewhere on your way, but never allow your in-car entertainment to take priority over your safe driving habits.
- Reading – Reading maps and directions while driving is another often un-thought of driving distraction. Sure, you’ll want to get to where you need to go, but it’s important to map out the route before you put the car in drive. GPS systems that talk to you are your best bet, as you can follow your directions exactly without ever having to take your eyes off the road. Or, if you have a passenger, give them the job of “co-pilot” and have them handle the maps and direct you to where you need to go!
Leave The Phone Out Of It
The bottom line here is simply to leave the phone out of your driving experience, and to not put yourself or others at risk due to driving distractions. While there are many other driving distractions out there, cell phone use while driving has become one of the most problematic.
Some states have even cracked down on cell phone use while driving, issuing tickets and fines if drivers are caught with phone in hand. No call or text is too important that it cannot wait for a person to pull over or get to their destination, and your life, as well as other lives on the road, could depend on that fact!
Cell Phone Use While Driving Laws Across States
Although lawmakers at the state, federal and local levels are examining a wide variety of issues related to driver distraction, cell phones remain the most common distraction while driving.
To combat distracted driving, various laws regulate the use of cellphones and other electronics in the car. But these are mostly hand-held and texting bans.
Hand-held bans only allow drivers to use mobile devices in hands-free mode while driving, so either you have a voice communication app installed on your phone or you can activate it using a single tap or swipe.
Some states are stricter, prohibiting access to read or view any non-navigation content on your mobile phones.
Meanwhile, texting bans do not allow drivers to type or send messages while driving altogether. They can only use a hand-held mobile device for calls.
Take note though that most of these bans include exceptions, mostly intended for emergencies and law enforcement and first responders use.
If you want to check the law being implemented in a certain state, the National Conference of State Legislature or NCSL’s Power BI Distracted Driving charts provide a detailed overview of current laws in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia.
Here’s a summary:
- Hand-held cell phone use ban – in effect in 24 states and D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. As mentioned, this prohibits all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving.
- All cellphone bans are not in effect for all drivers in any state. However, 36 states and the District of Columbia that ban all cell phone use by first-time and teen drivers. In addition, there are 18 states. plus D.C., which prohibits any cell phone use for school bus drivers.
- The text messaging ban is being implemented in 48 states, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Missouri prohibits text messaging by drivers who are 21 years old or younger.
- Other states prohibit hand-held cell phones or all cellphone use by all or certain drivers in certain zones.