Are you guilty of sending text messages from behind the wheel? If you are, you’re not alone. Although hard statistics on the practice are scarce, it’s clearly a growing problem. More than 150 billion text messages are sent annually, and a substantial percentage of those are sent from the driver’s seat.
Anything that takes a driver’s attention off the road increases the likelihood of an accident, including talking on a cell phone, eating, applying make-up or shaving. But text messaging can be especially dangerous since composing and sending a message requires a driver to look at the phone or device rather than at the highway and surrounding traffic for an extended period of time.
Texting while driving has been identified as a factor in several accidents, with police linking the time phone text messages were sent with the occurrence of fatal automobile crashes. It seems an especially prevalent practice among the young: One insurance company survey found that 19% of drivers admit to sending text messages while driving, and an alarming 37% of drivers between the ages of 18 and 27 engage in the practice.
The problem has become widespread enough for some states, including Washington and Oregon, to take notice and consider legislation that makes driving while texting a crime. Activists are lobbying to include specific texting-while-driving provisions in existing laws that prohibit hand-held electronic devices to be used on the road.
In fact, a recent Harris Interactive poll revealed that 89% of Americans support legislation to ban texting while behind the wheel. And 91% of respondents believed that people who text and drive are just as dangerous as drunks on the road.
What can you do about this problem? Stay safe by resisting the temptation and encouraging others to do the same.