According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 2022 report, around 3% of drivers fiddle with their cell phones in their car—a dangerous act that takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds.1 This is more than enough time to get in a fatal car wreck—over 3,100 of which are caused by distracted driving each year.
What Are the Dangers of Texting While Driving?
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Understanding the dangers of texting while driving
You may know that texting and driving is bad, but may not understand just how bad it really is. In 2018, around 400,000 people were injured in wrecks caused by distracted driving.2 And drivers aged 16 to 24 are most likely to use a handheld device while driving. With so many less experienced drivers on the road using highly distracting devices, the potential for crashes—and thus injuries and fatalities—is incredibly high.
Other risks to texting on the road
Of course, lethal consequences or the chance of injuring someone are the biggest risk factors with texting and driving, but there are other risks as well. Consider these points before you pick up your phone when you’re behind the wheel.
- You are probably breaking the law: Texting and driving is illegal in every state except Montana, so you could get a ticket—and a fine.
- Your insurance could go up: If you get a ticket for distracted driving, count on your insurance rates skyrocketing.
- You could damage your car: Even if you don’t hurt someone if you cause a crash while texting, you could severely damage your car. A totaled vehicle won’t be cheap to repair or replace.
- You could get sued: According to the Dickerson Oxton law office, you could be sued for negligence if you caused a car wreck while texting and driving.
Monitoring your texting-while-driving habits
If you aren't sure how often you pick up your phone when you're in the driver's seat, try a driver safety app like Life360. It logs every time you pick up your phone in the car and gives you (or your teen driver) an important wake-up call.
You can also pause notifications on your phone when driving:
- On an iPhone, go to Settings and then Focus. Tap the plus sign in the upper-right corner. Select Driving and follow the on-screen prompts to avoid distracting pings and notifications when traveling.
- On an Android phone, go to Settings, then Google. Tap Personal Safety and toggle on the option to silence notifications while driving.
Texting and driving is risky at best and lethal at worst. I've started to remind myself to "arrive alive" any time I think about using my phone in the car. Maybe that mantra will help you too.
To get even more information on how to stay safe while you are driving, please check out our Car Safety Guide. That resource provides plenty of suggestions to ensure you’re as safe as possible on the road.
Related articles on SafeWise
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Distracted Driving,” Accessed March 1, 2023.
- Federal Communications Commission, “The Dangers of Distracted Driving,” May 2020. Accessed March 1, 2023.
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