Teens Texting and Driving: Facts and Statistics
Distracted driving has been making headlines for years. Even though drivers of all ages admit to distracted driving, teen drivers are the worst offenders. Distracted driving is risky on its own, but when it’s combined with the inexperience of a teen driver, it can be incredibly dangerous.
How dangerous? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10% of all fatal crashes and 15% of all injury crashes were caused by distracted drivers. Here’s a look at some other NHTSA statistics that show the dangers of distracted driving:
- 9% of drivers between the ages of 15-19 involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the accident.
- Just under 3,500 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2015, and another 391,000 were injured.
Based on these texting and driving facts and statistics, it’s clear that distracted driving is a huge problem facing our society.
How Distracted Driving Affects the Brain
Some teens think that they are more than capable of multitasking while behind the wheel, but this isn’t true. The human brain—especially the teenage, not fully developed brain—is only programmed to do one thing at a time. When someone attempts to complete two tasks at once, such as driving and texting on a cell phone, their brain’s reaction time will start to slow down.
As the reaction time begins to slow down, the pace at which the brain can process the driver’s surroundings will slow down, too. Research has shown that the activity in this part of the brain slows down by about 33% when the driver is distracted with a cell phone. This means the driver will not be able to process and respond to his environment as well because he is multitasking.
The Dangers of Texting While Driving
There are many different kinds of distracted driving, but texting is one of the most dangerous. Reading or responding to a single text can take a driver’s attention off of the road for about five seconds. This may not seem like a lot of time, but in five seconds, a car traveling at 55mph can cover the length of a football field.
Teens are well aware of the dangers of texting while driving. In fact, an AAA poll revealed that 94% of teens acknowledge that texting while driving is dangerous. But unfortunately, this doesn’t stop many of them from doing it anyways. Thirty-five percent of teens in this poll admitted to texting while driving even though they know it’s not safe.
Texting While Driving vs. Drunk Driving
Believe it or not, texting while driving can be just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than driving while drunk. One study found that distracted drivers experience a 35% decline in reaction time, whereas drunk drivers only experience a 12% decline. These researchers also found that distracted drivers were more likely to drift into another lane, change speeds, or abruptly slam on the brakes than drunk drivers.
Both distracted and drunk driving are unsafe. But, showing teens that distracted driving is more dangerous than drunk driving may help them understand how important it is to pay attention to the road.
Texting While Driving Laws
Connecticut was the first state to ban texting while driving, but many others have followed. The only states that do not have bans on texting while driving are Texas, Oklahoma, Montana, Missouri, Mississippi, and Arizona.
Even though texting while driving is illegal, many believe it’s still not taken as seriously as it should be. In many states, the only consequence for texting while driving is a small fine. This fine can be as low as $20 in California or $25 in Alabama. However, other states do impose larger fines on distracted drivers. Alaska, for example, can fine distracted drivers up to $10,000. Check out this state-by-state guide for parents from TeenSafe.
Distracted Driving & Car Insurance
Insurance experts believe that the cost of insurance is rising due to the higher rates of traffic injuries and fatalities. Since the increase in traffic fatalities and injuries can be partly attributed to distracted driving, young people are being blamed for the rise in car insurance rates.
How much should drivers expect to pay? The average increase can vary by state and provider. In Massachusetts, drivers should expect to see up to a 6% increase in their auto insurance premiums, whereas drivers in North Carolina should prepare for an average increase of 13.8%. These are significant increases—and they may not have been necessary if drivers simply learned to stop texting behind the wheel.
This is a lot of information to take in at once. Remember to always talk to your teen about the dangers of distracted driving and consider how they can defy the statistics. Here’s a snapshot of some of the most important texting and driving statistics that parents should keep in mind:
Teens Texting and Driving Facts and Statistics
- 94% of teens acknowledge that texting while driving is dangerous
- 11 teens die everyday as a result of texting while driving.
- Teen drivers are 4x more likely than adults to get into car accidents while texting or talking on a cell phone.
- One out of every 4 car accidents in the U.S. is caused by texting and driving.
- Cell phone use is highest among 16-24 year old drivers.