Since 1996, texting has become more and more popular as a way to stay in contact with friends and family. Statistics show that as many as 204 million cell phone users world-wide text on a regular basis. The increase in popularity has created a difficult and dangerous problem – texting while driving. Car accidents caused by texting are becoming one of the most common car accident causes.
In Texas, over 3,000 crashes were directly related to cell phone use in 2011. A large number of these accidents were created when a driver was sending or reading a text message. In 361 of these accidents, the results were fatal. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash than other drivers.
How Does Texting Cause Car Accidents?
Many people believe that texting while driving is not as big of a deal as other behaviors, such as drunk driving or speeding. While this may have been true in the 1990s, it is no longer the case. According to researchers, you divert up to 39 percent of your brain capacity when you pick up your cell phone to make a call or text a friend. Texting requires the driver to take his or her eyes off the road for extended periods of time, often for at least the distance of a football field.
A compounding factor in texting accidents is that a large proportion of these accidents involve teen drivers. Teens are generally the least experienced on the road and the most likely to text and drive. This has proven to be a lethal combination.
While many people, especially teens, do not believe that talking or texting while driving affects their ability to operate a vehicle, the numbers paint another picture:
- Seventy-seven percent of young adults stated they are confident in their ability to text and drive.
- Thirteen percent of all young adult drivers involved in crashes admit that they were texting while operating the vehicle.
- Teens that text and drive spend about 10 percent of their driving time outside the proper lane.
- In 2011, approximately 23 percent of all car accidents were attributable to cell phone use.
Texas Laws Regarding Texting While Driving
In 39 other states, texting while driving has been banned and cell phone use, even hands free, is being regulated and monitored by law enforcement. Texas residents have told the state’s legislators that they believe a ban on texting while driving is a smart idea; however, no acceptable statute has passed as of this date. No message or phone call is worth the life of another driver, the passenger in your own vehicle or even your own life.