Texting While Driving Is A Major Cause of Distraction

December 16th, 2013 | Distracted Driving

Each day in the United States, more than nine people are killed and more than 1,060 people are injured in auto accidents that are reported to involve a distracted driver. Modern technology, with all of the conveniences that it offers, can turn deadly in an instant. When we get into a car, whether as a driver or passenger, we place our lives into the hands of others using the roadway. Oftentimes, those other drivers are distracted by the use of smartphones, cell phones, or GPS devices.

Distracted driving is described by the Federal government as, “Driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving.” This includes activities such as using a cellular phone, texting, and eating. Texting and driving can be especially dangerous to both the driver and others using the roadway because it involves visual, manual, and cognitive distractions. Think about it: when you are sending a text message, your eyes are off the road, at least one hand is off the wheel, and your mind is not focused on driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined that the average driver’s eyes are off of the road for 4.6 seconds every time a text message is sent or received. This can lead to unfortunate events that often times involve injury or even death.

A study conducted by the CDC revealed that in 2011, 3,331 people were killed in vehicle collisions involving distracted drivers and 387,000 people were injured by distracted drivers. The study revealed that 31% of drivers in the United States ages 18-64 reported reading or sending text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed. Those drivers that are especially prone to texting and driving are younger, inexperienced drivers. The CDC study revealed that nearly half of all U.S. high school students aged 16 years or older text or email while driving.

Locally, Kentucky and Indiana have both enacted laws that ban texting while driving. Kentucky’s “No Texting While Driving” law forbids anyone to send text messages while driving a motor vehicle. Drivers under the age of 18 are forbidden from any use of a cell phone while driving. In Kentucky, House Bill 294 imposes penalty points to drivers who are caught texting while driving. This is in combination with a monetary penalty. This means that if you are caught texting and driving in Kentucky more than three times in one year, your license may be suspended.

Similarly, Indiana has enacted legislation which forbids the use of text messaging while driving. The fines incurred for breaking this law can be up to $500. Additionally, like Kentucky, drivers under the age of 18 are completely banned from any cell phone usage while driving.

Although anti-texting statutes have proven somewhat difficult for law enforcement to enforce, there is a downward trend in the amount of distracted driving accidents in both Indiana and Kentucky. However, law enforcement officers are becoming more creative in their attempts to catch drivers violating the law. Tennessee law enforcement was recently seen driving a large semi-truck so that police officers could look into the cabins of vehicles below in order to catch drivers red-handed.

Driving while distracted puts your life and the lives of others on the road in needless danger. No message is worth the cost of a life. Next time you receive a text message while driving, wait until you reach your destination to check your phone. Not only could it save you money, time, and license, it could save your life.