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Many of us have seen the ad campaigns about the dangers of making phone calls while behind the wheel. You know the risks but may think you can handle it. Some drivers feel so confident that they also send text messages on occasion and wonder, “What possibly could go wrong?”

Society for Risk Analysis Study

Man texting while drivingAccording to a recent study by The Society for Risk Analysis, people who text and drive have an accident risk six times greater than drivers who stay focused on the road. Published in Risk Analysis: An International Journal, the results indicate that texting surpasses standard cell phone use in terms of accident rate.

Specifically, a driver using a cell phone has an accident risk 2.2 times higher than a driver not making a call. The data came from 447 Australian drivers, who were questioned about potential crash risks, driving confidence and likelihood of placing a call or texting on a cell phone.

The study’s figures further show that usage is not even across all demographics; women and less experienced drivers use their cell phones the most. In varying degrees, others surveyed also believe that cell phone use only has a minimal effect on the driver.

At the extreme, some drivers disbelieve all the risks associated with cell phone use behind the wheel. Many did not realize that the distraction created by calling or texting can last long after you have completed the task.

Aside from dismissing statistics, why do drivers continue to text behind the wheel? The study found that, regardless of age, many experience “fear of missing out” or separation anxiety. As a result, when the phone buzzes with a text or social media update, they automatically check it and possibly respond.

This research is hardly the only instance in which data strongly makes a case against texting and driving.

Responsible For a High Number of Teen Fatalities

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3,000 teens and young drivers die in accidents related to texting and driving each year. By day, this averages to about eight individuals. As the CDC points out, fatalities related to texting and driving now exceed those involving underage drinking, which have steadily declined over the past few decades. Meanwhile, texting and driving incidents have gone up as more individuals have access to mobile technology.

According to figures from the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, 300,000 injuries per year result from teens sending texts behind the wheel.

As far as who is engaging in this type of behavior, it’s fairly universal across this demographic. Phone use is almost evenly split between the sexes – 49 percent of boys and 45 percent of girls admit to texting and driving – and the habit only gets worse with age. Even before receiving a license, 24 percent of 15-year-olds already do this and by 18, over half of all teens regularly check and send texts as they drive.

Electronic Device Usage Isn’t Slowing Down

A NHTSA report indicates that, during daylight hours, an estimated 660,000 drivers use an electronic device while behind the wheel. From this group, about 100,000 may decide to text at any time.

According to a National Occupant Protection Use Survey, those 16 to 24 years old have the greatest incidence of using any kind of hand-held device while driving.

Based on figures from DMV.org, distracted driving is responsible for:

  • Over a quarter of all car accidents
  • Roughly nine fatalities per day
  • Close to 1,000 injuries per day

Texting Is More Distracting Than Other Behaviors

Expanding upon the statistics above, not all distracted behaviors are created equal. Texting splits your attention in multiple directions, more than calling:

  • Visual: Because you’re looking directly at your phone, your eyes are taken off the road.
  • Manual: Because you have to use at least one hand, you don’t have both hands on the steering wheel and are more likely to lose control.
  • Cognitive: You have to think about your response and type it out. As a result, you’re less alert to what’s around you and don’t have the mental reserves to think about what to do next.

Compared to calling from a phone, you’ll take four times as long to answer or read a text. For a short text message, you might only take five seconds to read it, but within that time – assuming you’re going between 50 to 60 mph – you’ve already traveled the length of a football field.

What can happen during this period of time? Teens could drive outside of their lane for at least 10 percent of the time spent looking away. In the process, your eyes aren’t looking at the road or the vehicle’s direction. As a result, you’re more likely to drive into something.

What happens after you get into an accident? If it’s clear you’ve been texting and driving, prepare to pay large fines, have your license suspended, see your car insurance rates sharply increase or spend some time in jail.
 
Someone hit by a distracted driver may have a long recovery ahead or experience a life-long injury. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, hold the other driver responsible by starting a claim with Trantolo & Trantolo. To have one of our attorneys review your claim, contact us today.