distracted driving statistics

Teens and Distracted Driving: Facts and Statistics


Teens and distracted driving is almost synonymous in the digital era. Statistically, teens are more likely to make driving errors, regardless of distraction type. However, the use of mobile devices while driving increases safety risks. To put this into perspective, we have compiled a number of distracted driving statistics.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 9 people are killed in automobile accidents due to distracted driving each day.

Other distracted driving statistics compiled in the NHTSA report, “Traffic Safety Facts” include:

  • Distracted driving causes 15 percent of injury crashes.
  • Nearly 400,000 people were injured in distracted driving incidents in 2015.
  • Nine percent of teen drivers 15 to 19 years old are involved in distracted driving fatalities.
  • Teen drivers 15 to 19 years old are the age group most at risk for distracted driving accidents.

The distracted driving statistics are pretty clear. If you drive distracted, you are at higher risk for an accident. This risk is significantly higher for teens, especially when correlated with cell phone use.

In fact, cell phone use accounted for 14 percent of all distracted driving fatalities in 2015.

distracted driving statistics

The NHTSA report stated, “For these distraction-affected crashes, the police crash report stated that the driver was talking on, listening to, or otherwise manipulating a cell phone (or other cell phone activity) at the time of the crash. A total of 476 people died in fatal crashes that involved the use of cell phones or other cell-phone-related activities as distractions.”

It would be safe to say that teen drivers, in combination with cell phones, is a recipe for disaster. Chimes of incoming calls and texts, texting while driving, and even hands free calling can be potentially deadly.

Like Ivan Pavlov’s salivating dogs, cell phones have become the most profound case of classical conditioning in history. How many times have you seen your teens instantly reach for their cell phone after hearing it chime?

It is an irresistible urge that they simply cannot control. And if you think they are not under the control of such an urge while driving, you need to absolutely keep reading.

distracted driving statistics

Distracted Driving on the Rise in the Digital Era

The digital era has certainly ushered in exceptional innovation. You can connect with anyone, anywhere in the world with a few simple clicks. Mobile messenger platforms like Facebook Messenger, Kik, and WhatsApp make it easy for teens to stay connected with friends and family at all times.

However, this has made the smartphone another appendage teens simply can’t live without. When was the last time you saw your teen without their smartphone more than an arm’s length away?

Smartphone ownership and use by teens is commonplace. According to eMarketer, 87 percent of teens aged 14 to 18 years old owned a smartphone.

distracted driving statistics

Smartphone use among teens has increased at unprecedented rates as well. In 2014, 71 percent of teens 12 to 17 years old owned and used a smartphone. This mobile statistic has increased 89 percent in 2017.

distracted driving statistics

There is also no sign of smartphone ownership and use slowing down. By 2020, the percentage of teens aged 12 to 17 who own and use a smartphone will increase to nearly 93 percent.

Is your teen addicted to his or her smartphone? The chances are they most certainly are. But don’t be too hard on yourself, because the vast majority of teens, and young adults are.

According to a CivicScience survey on tech addiction, 76 percent of tech enthusiasts aged 13 to 24 said they are indeed addicted to their digital devices.

distracted driving statistics

So what does all this have to do with distracted driving and teens? Well, the ownership, use, and admitted addiction to digital devices don’t simply end once the keys are in the ignition.

One of the biggest distractions for any driver is cell phone use. These distractions can be texting or talking on the phone while driving. The issue is not a small one either.

Laws Prohibiting Cell Phone Use While Driving

Driving accidents involving a cell phone have made many state legislatures take notice. In fact, it is illegal in many states to drive and talk while holding a smartphone. Texting while driving has also become a punishable offense in many states as well.

“The prevalence of cellular phones, new research, and publicized crashes has started many debates related to the role cell phones play in driver distraction,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

There have been 14 states, including Washington D.C. to issue legislation banning handheld cell phone use. Puerto Rico, the U.S, Virgin Islands, and Guam have also made driving and holding a cell phone illegal.

Texting while driving has been the focus of more state legislation with 47 states, Washington D.C., Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico banning this deadly driving distraction.

For teens, the laws on cell phone use while driving is certainly stricter. There are 38 states and Washington D.C. that have banned any cell phone use of any kind by teens while operating a motor vehicle.

“Teen drivers have grown up using cell phones and other communication devices,” explained personalinjurysandiego.org. “They expect an answer to text messages within five minutes or less.”

The fines for texting while driving are pretty hefty in many states. Even first time offenders can be fined, have their licenses suspended, and even serve jail time.

distracted driving statistics

Alaska is by far the strictest with a $10,000 fine imposed for anyone texting while driving. Oregon, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Indiana are a few of the other states with a ban and large monetary penalty.

Teen Texting and Driving

Texting is absolutely important to examine when it comes to teens and distracted driving. As much as parents would like to believe their teen doesn’t text while driving, it has probably happened at least once or twice.

Did you know that texting while driving is the number one distraction? Talking on the cell phone, playing with the stereo, and talking to passengers are all safer than texting.

The reason texting while driving is so dangerous is that three major physical and mental actions are happening at once. This draws a teen’s attention from the road, and the potential dangers ahead.

Texting causes these distractions while driving . . .

  • Cognitive Distraction: Your teen will no longer be mindful of the main action, which is driving due to the need to grab, use, and process communication to and from those texting them.
  • Visual Distraction: When your teen driver takes his or her eyes from the road to read or type a text message, their visual attention is no longer focused on the road.
  • Manual Distraction: To grab for a phone and most likely type in or swipe a security password to access their phone, your teen’s hands are no longer on the wheel. This causes a lack of control over the vehicle.

Interestingly most teens have a pretty good idea how dangerous texting while driving can be. In fact, 97 percent of teens said they agree that it is dangerous, according to a survey by AT&T. Sadly, 43 percent of teens still text and drive despite knowing the dangers involved.

Other teens texting while driving facts include . . .

  • Texting while driving increases a teen’s risk for having an auto accident by 400 percent.
  • Teens who text while driving are veering outside of their lane 10 percent more than if they were not distracted.
  • 40 percent of teens said they have been passengers in a car while the driver was using his or her cell phone while driving.

Nearly all teens also believe that they need to respond to a text, or receive a response within five minutes or less. This may be one issue that is fueling the epidemic of distracted driving by teens.

Did you know that the five seconds it takes your teen to check or respond to a text equals the distance of a football field if he or she is driving 55 mph? That is a colossal distance a serious accident could take place in.

distracted driving statistics

It only takes seconds to cause or be involved in a fatal car crash. Teens who text while driving have a 400 percent increased risk of being in an auto accident than an adult. This is certainly one of the most startling statistics. A 400 percent increased risk of anything is enough to set off parental alarm bells.

To put texting and distracted driving into perspective, smoking cigarettes increases your chance of lung cancer by up to 25 times. Do you let your children smoke? Obesity is another good example. Obesity has been found to increase the risk of death by 18 percent. Do you keep a close eye on your teen’s diet?

There are certainly enough facts and statistics regarding teens and distracted driving to scare any parent. The question, however, is how can you prevent your teen from being a statistic?

distracted driving statistics

Parents Refocusing Teens On the Road

There are a number of ways you can keep your teen safe and distraction free while driving. There is innovative technology that can be used, communication can be made priority, and you, the parent, can always lead by example.

To keep your teen safe of driving distractions, like texting, you should try all of the below tactics. Here are a few ways you can refocus your teen on the road ahead.

Make Distracted Driving an Ongoing Conversation

How many times have you told your teen to not use their smartphone while driving? How many family meetings have been about phone use and driving? For many families, the conversation may have been less than a handful of times.

It is essential to make the conversation ongoing when it comes to keeping your teen safe from distractions while driving. How many times have you talked about drinking and driving with your teen? Has it been more than texting while driving?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five teen drivers that were in fatal car crashes had been drinking.

Did you know that teens who text and drive are six times more likely to be in a car accident than driving drunk? It is actually statistically safer for your teen to drink and drive than use his or her smartphone behind the wheel.

Make texting, and any kind of smartphone use a topic of your next conversation. A great statistic that may drive you to spark a conversation is that 62 percent of teens say reminders by parents not to text and drive work.

This will allow you and your teen to discuss these startling facts and statistics, and make a plan to ensure they avoid distractions while on the road.

Parents Need to Set the Example

Seventy-seven percent of teens said they have been lectured about the dangers of texting while driving, however, those same adults were reported to text and drive “all the time,” according to the previously noted AT&T survey.

The ongoing conversation about driving distractions and using a smartphone while behind the wheel will be a little hypocritical if you are setting the wrong example.

In fact, 41 percent of teens said they have seen parents text, email, or use their smartphone in a distracting way while driving.

The good news is that by setting the example, teens will change their behavior. Overall, 89 percent of teens said parents are generally good role models when it comes to texting while driving. Be a parent in the 89 percentile.

Innovative Technology that Keeps Teens Safer On the Road

The digital era has put a driving distraction in your teen’s hands, the smartphone that is now their third arm. However, in the same way, you can use technology to combat the potential dangers of said distraction.

Apps your teen can use to avoid distractions while driving are . . .

Voice Recognition Apps

Having a voice recognition app on your teen’s phone lets them speak instead of texting. This could help keep them from becoming distracted. Some voice recognition apps even have social posting features.

Like Voice Assistant by Quanticapps Ltd . . .

Auto Responder Apps

Auto responder apps serve as a beneficial way to keep teens from answering calls and texting while driving. Since teens believe that all texts need to be answered within five minutes, an auto responder app will do it for them. Set when driving, any call or text your teen receives will send a message instantly.

Like Auto Responder by Everyone . . .

distracted driving statistics

Keep Your Teens Safe with TeenSafe Control

If there were a solution to stop your teen from using their smartphone while behind the wheel, would you use it? Well there is. TeenSafe, a leader in keeping kids safe while using the innovative tech devices prevalent in the digital era, has the solution.

distracted driving statistics

TeenSafe Control allows parents to monitor and control their teens mobile devices for a variety of situations. One such situation being distracted driving. TeenSafe Control can also be useful for setting bedtimes, homework time, dinner, and family outings.

Control features include . . .

  • Pausing mobile use of your teen’s smartphone remotely.
  • Blocking apps that may have inappropriate content or need to be inaccessible due to age restrictions.
  • Restrict access to your teen’s mobile device based on a preset schedule.

Keeping your teens safe is certainly priority number one for all parents. The digital era and the innovative mobile devices have brought new dangers into your home, car, and teen’s life.

Despite the dangers lurking online, or the distractions a smartphone may present while driving, it is vital to have a conversation with your teen. Communication needs to be a two way street, and once your teen knows you have his or her safety at heart, your teen is far less likely to be a distracted driver.

With that in mind, always remember these scary distracted driving statistics next time you get in the car with your child…

Distracted Driving Facts and Statistics

  • 9 people are killed in automobile accidents due to distracted driving each day.
  • Distracted driving causes 15% of injury crashes.
  • Nearly 400,000 people were injured in distracted driving incidents in 2015.
  • Talking on a cell phone quadruples your risk of an accident, the same risk as driving drunk.
  • Texting increases your risk of an accident by 8 times!
  • The fines for texting and driving vary, with the highest being $10,000 in Alaska.
  • Teen drivers 15 to 19 years old are the age group most at risk for distracted driving accidents.
  • 9% of teen drivers 15 to 19 years old are involved in distracted driving fatalities.
  • Texting while driving increases a teen’s risk for having an auto accident by 400%.
  • Teens who text while driving veer outside of their lane 10% more than if they were not distracted.
  • 40% teens said they have been passengers in a car while the driver was using his or her cell phone while driving, including their parents.
  • 90% of drivers are aware of the risk of distracted driving, but 35% of those do it anyway.

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