All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction and should not take the place of health care or services you may need. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Texting While Driving

The ABC program Extreme Makeover: Home Edition just featured a family from Texas who lost a daughter in a one-car accident that was caused by texting while driving. Alex Brown was a beautiful young teenager who made a foolish choice that proved to be fatal. She was on her way to school one day and she was texting as she drove down a rural road. She wound up going off the road and her truck flipped when she hit a ditch. Sadly, she was not wearing a seat belt and she was thrown from the vehicle.

After watching that program, I decided to post some information on texting while driving. All age groups are guilty of all kinds of distracted driving. However, 16 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 who were involved in fatal accidents were reportedly distracted while driving. (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration--NHTSA)

Of those drivers reportedly distracted during a fatal crash, the 30-to-39-year-old drivers were the group with the greatest proportion distracted by cell phones. Cell phone distraction was reported for 24 percent of the 30-to-39-year-old distracted drivers in fatal crashes. (FARS)

Here are some other statistics:

- 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA).

- In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction (16% of total fatalities). (Fatality Analysis Reporting System--FARS)

- Of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashes, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction (18% of fatalities in distraction-related crashes). (NHTSA)

State Farm sponsored a study last year that found that fewer teenagers think they will be have an accident or be killed while texting versus drinking while driving. The poll was conducted by Harris Interactive and the findings are in conflict with actual academic research.

Whereas 55 percent of teens ages 14-17, who either have their license or intend to get a license, believe that drinking and driving can be fatal, only 36 percent believe that they can be killed in an accident if they regularly text while driving. The survey also showed that 63 percent of the teens strongly agree that they could get into an accident while texting, as opposed to 78 percent who strongly agree that they can get into an accident if they drove after drinking.

An interesting finding in the survey was that teens who admitted to texting while driving were less likely to think they could get into an accident than teens who have never texted while driving (52 percent of those who text and 78 percent of those who have never texted.) For the complete report, visit http://www.harrisinteractive.com/vault/State-Farm-Teens-Texting-2010-09-20.pdf.

Since there is a disconnect between what teens think and what reality is, it is important for parents to talk to their children about the risks involved with texting while driving. Parents need to set rules for their children when they are driving a vehicle.

The National Safety Council suggests these rules:

- When you're on the road, you have to stay off the phone. That means no texting, no checking for messages, no reading emails and no talking.

- Only use a cell phone when the car is safely parked.

- If you find it hard to resist the urge to check the phone, try putting the cell phone in the glove compartment.


30 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam ban text messaging for all drivers. Twelve of these laws were enacted in 2010 alone.

8 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving.


Primary law prohibits ALL types of drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving. A primary law means that an officer can ticket the driver for the offense without any other traffic offense taking place.

Secondary law bans text messaging for ALL types of drivers. A secondary law means an officer can only give you a ticket if you have been pulled over for another driving violation.

For a complete list of states and their laws regarding cell phones/texting, visit http://www.distraction.gov/state-laws/index.html

Statistics from the NHTSA available at http://www.distraction.gov/stats-and-facts/index.html

No comments:

Post a Comment