Texting while driving is a deadly, dangerous habit that has sadly become all too common on the roads. Over three thousand people died on the road because of distracted driving in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). And around ten percent of those deaths were the result of somebody deciding to send a text while behind the wheel.
It’s a sobering statistic, and it’s clear that there’s a real need to address the problem. Texting might be the way that we’ve all gotten used to keeping in touch with one another but combine it with overseeing a vehicle and you have a very serious, deadly weapon that can lead to all sorts of distressing, traumatic situations.
In this post, we’ll look further into the dangers of texting while driving, the laws in place to prevent it, and what we can do to reduce it and prevent the accidents that it causes.
The Dangers of Texting and Driving
Sending or reading a text message while driving can seriously impair a driver’s ability to react to hazards on the road. While you are texting, you are not giving your full attention to the vehicle and the road ahead of you. When texting, the driver must divide their attention between the road and their phone, which can make it difficult for the driver to quickly react to any hazards that they encounter on the road such as lane changes, drivers in front of them suddenly stopping, or pedestrians. A driver who is texting has slower reaction times, which can make avoiding accidents harder.
Texting while driving can significantly increase the risks of a collision. It can cause drivers to take their eyes off the road for extended periods, leaving them unaware of what is going on around them. Texting while driving can also impair your ability to stay in control of the vehicle, leading to drifting out of lanes that can be seriously dangerous.
Plus, texting will divert the driver’s attention from their speed, which could lead to driving at an excessive speed, or slowing down to a dangerous speed, creating a hazard on the road.
Laws Against Texting and Driving
There are various laws, and penalties, for texting and driving that vary depending on the state and jurisdiction. Some states passed laws that prohibit all drivers from texting and driving, while others only prohibit certain groups of drivers, such as teenagers, from using a smartphone while driving. There are various penalties for texting while driving, which could include fines and jail time.
A survey in 2019 by the NHTSA showed that Americans continue to use their electronic devices while behind the wheel, regardless of the laws and warnings that it can lead to accidents, injuries, and even death. According to Ray RaHood, the U.S. Transportation Secretary at the time, there is no way to text and drive safely.
In 2012, there were very different results from another NHTSA national survey, on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors. 74% of drivers supported a ban on hand-held cell phone use while driving, while a huge 94% of respondents supported a ban on texting while driving. They believed that drivers committing these offenses should be fined no less than $200.
Texting and Driving Laws in the States We Cover
The states we cover and their laws on texting while driving are as follows:
California: Drivers are not permitted to use a cell phone for calling or reading and writing text messages while driving on a public road. However, drivers are permitted to use cell phones for calling and texting if they do so through a handsfree system. All drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone when driving, even when a handsfree system is used.
Nevada: Drivers of all ages are prohibited from texting, accessing the internet, and using hand-held devices for any other reason while driving. There are some exceptions – hands-free devices are permitted, and drivers are also permitted to touch their phones to ‘activate, deactivate, or initiate a feature or function’. It’s also legally permitted to use a phone while driving if reporting a hazard, crime, or emergency.
Texas: In Texas, it’s illegal for drivers to use cell phones, including for texting, when driving and the car is moving. All uses of handheld devices are banned when driving through a school zone, and drivers with a learner’s permit are not permitted to use a cell phone in any manner while behind the wheel during their first six months of driving. Drivers who are under the age of 18 are not permitted to use any kind of handheld device while driving.
Preventing Texting While Driving Through Educating Drivers
An accident caused by texting while driving is often one of those things where you might think ‘it will never happen to me’. However, the dangers of using your phone to send a message while behind the wheel can happen to any driver, no matter how long you have been driving for or how good you are as a driver.
Drivers can use several strategies to avoid the temptation to text and drive, including switching off or silencing the device while driving. If you must respond to a text message while driving, it’s also a good idea to designate a passenger to respond on your behalf. Keeping your phone out of reach while driving, if you can, can also help reduce the temptation to use it. If you use your phone for GPS directions, it can be worth checking your phone’s system for driving mode, which will prevent you from getting distracting notifications or calls coming through when using your phone to follow a route.
Educational programs and campaigns can also be effective when it comes to raising awareness on the dangers of texting and drivers. For example, AT&T’s ‘It Can Wait’ campaign encourages people to promise not to text and drive. Many schools also run programs to educate teens on the dangers of texting while operating a car before they get behind the wheel.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident through somebody’s driving and texting, we know how frustrating and distressing this situation can be. At Karns & Karns Personal Injury and Accident Attorneys, our lawyers are well-versed in the laws and have won many cases for clients affected by a driver who was texting behind the wheel. Call us today at 877-557-4221 to discuss how we can help you.