Cell phones are usually known for being a getaway from boredom when it comes to long car rides. Whether you’re driving across state lines or the next town over, one of the ways people get that entertainment is by playing games on their cell phones or texting while driving.
Unfortunately, this often leads to an increased number of accidents due to distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of nine people are killed and more than 1,000 people are injured each day in crashes that involve a distracted driver.
However, it’s not just cell phone usage that causes accidents; even eating or tuning the radio takes our attention off the road and increases the risk of a crash.
What NHTSA is trying to say is that accidents are a big concern for all drivers, but especially teenage drivers who have less experience on the road and also tend to exhibit more risky behavior behind the wheel. But how exactly do these things affect our lives? What risks specifically come with texting or using a cell phone while driving?
Using a cell phone while driving can affect teen drivers in three main ways:
- Taking their eyes off the road
- Distracting them from driving and making split-second decisions
- Exhibiting risky behavior by texting or talking on the phone while behind the wheel.
Participating in risky behaviors such as speeding, not wearing seat belts, having passengers in the car, drinking alcohol/taking drugs, or driving under the influence of caffeine can lead to accidents.
Though this is true for all drivers, it seems to be especially evident in teenage drivers. A recent survey found that 60% of teenagers who responded admitted to using their phones while driving and only 36% said they don’t text and drive.
Texting or using a cell phone while driving increases the risk of accidents for several reasons:
Doubles Chances of Crashing
Taking your eyes off the road for five seconds doubles your chance of crashing. Driving takes about five seconds longer following a text than the posted speed limit requires, which can cause an accident.
Six Times More Distracted
Using a cell phone while driving is six times more distracting than driving while intoxicated (DWI) and 11 times more distracting than driving after consuming one drink.
Even if you’re not texting while driving, using a cell phone can take your attention away from the road and other things.
Decreases Reaction Time
Taking your eyes off the road for six seconds increases reaction time by 35% or about two seconds. Taking your eyes off the road for two seconds doubles reaction time to four seconds, which is the difference between life and death in some situations.
Know the Law
All states have passed laws prohibiting drivers from texting while driving. However, you can get pulled over for talking on your phone without a hands-free device if the officer thinks you are distracted by it. The law varies by state in regards to cell phone usage while driving.
Know How You Affect Others
We often think about our own safety when it comes to using a cell phone while driving, but did you know that 9% of all car accidents involve drivers between the ages of 16 and 20?
What we don’t realize is how often we cause accidents because we’re distracted behind the wheel. This not only affects us; it can harm many others on or near the road. Always be aware of how your behaviors affect others, and never do anything while driving that you wouldn’t want to happen to yourself.