No one would’ve imagined at the beginning of this century that everyone would be walking or driving around with a full computer in their pockets or purses. But it is the world we live in now.
This means that distracted driving has become more of an issue in the past few years since cell phones have become ubiquitous in the United States.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says more than 9% of fatal accidents in the last 7 years can be attributed to distracted driving.
This is why texting and driving laws are so stringent in most states in the United States. Do you know the dangers of texting and driving? Read on to see why texting and driving is banned in almost all states in the US.
Dangers of Texting and Driving
Distracted driving can mean many things. When you are doing something else, rather than focusing on driving, you are distracted driving. This could be putting on makeup, or eating your lunch, or chatting on the phone.
Of course, most people think that taking their eyes off the road for a few seconds is no big deal. They might even think that they are great at multitasking, so they can handle texting and driving. Maybe you are the same.
But this study by the Oregon University says that anything that takes your eyes away from the road for 2 seconds or more can increase your accident risk from 4 to 24 times! That’s absolutely mind-boggling.
Perhaps you don’t actually text while you drive. Maybe you use your phone only as a navigation device and glance at it occasionally while it sits in your lap.
Or you use your phone as a music device and look down briefly to change the song. Even though this isn’t necessarily texting and driving, it’s still distracted driving, and it’s dangerous!
You are not paying attention to what’s going on on the road, which means you might not notice that driver who cuts you off or that truck in front of you that brakes hard to avoid a stalled car.
You might think it’s only two seconds. But two seconds is quite a long time when it comes to driving at high speeds on a highway in America. It could mean the difference between life and death in many cases.
Need some texting and driving statistics? In 2017, 3166 people were killed in car crashes related to distracted drivers, the NHTSA says.
Texting and Driving Laws in the United States
As you can imagine, the government and the NHTSA take distracted driving seriously. It’s almost on par with drunk driving, considering that texting and driving is banned in 48 states and the District of Columbia.
This means it is banned for ALL drivers, with no exceptions. If you want to take an important phone call, pull over to the side of the road, or wait until you are parked somewhere.
Interestingly enough, some states also have specific bans on teenagers and distracted driving, with 38 states having something on the books about cellphone usage by minors.
This is important because 3.9% of young adults (aged 16-24) were observed texting or using hand-held devices while driving.
It’s also relevant as young adults are still newbie drivers. They haven’t developed the reaction times and the skills to be a good driver, as they don’t have enough years of driving under their belt yet.
This means that they need to be EXTRA cautious while driving, not browsing a playlist on their phone or texting their friends about something that can wait until later.
The Fines and Penalties for Texting and Driving
What will it mean for you if you get caught texting and driving? Of course, every state has different texting and driving laws and penalties. For example, for the first offense of texting and driving in South Carolina, the fine is $25.
Of course, repeated offenses mean higher fines, and if your distracted driving caused a serious injury or death, it could even mean jail time and fines up to $4000! In these cases, you will need to contact a criminal defense lawyer.
How To Prevent Texting and Driving Accidents?
What all this means is that you need to be more cognizant of your driving habits, as it relates to texting and distractedness. Here are some tips to help you out.
Focus on Driving
When you are driving, focus your entire attention on driving. Do not try to multitask. It’s not worth it. You can put on your makeup when you get to the office. You can get your lunch when you get back home.
It’s not only your life that you are putting in danger, but everyone else’s around you as well.
Don’t Allow Others To Distract You
One other thing that seems to distract drivers from focusing on the road is passengers. If your passengers are being rambunctious, or if they are trying to engage you in conversation, ignore them! Or ask them to stop doing that.
If you are distracted because of your passengers, you are putting their life in danger. Don’t get tempted to look in their direction, or take the food or beverage they offer you. Stay focused and alert!
Lead by Example
If you have minors or young adults in your family, then lead by example. You are the veteran driver here, so you need to show the newbies how it’s done!
Don’t get cocky and think that because you have been driving for decades now that texting and driving is no big deal for you. Everyone can be affected by distracted driving, no matter how long you’ve been driving.
Texting and Driving Facts
Now that you are aware of how many people die from texting and driving or distracted driving, you can be a smarter driver.
Follow the texting and driving laws in your state, and don’t take your eyes off the road! Not even for 2 seconds. It’s not worth it.
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