You wouldn’t think about drinking and driving, so why would you text and drive? Looking at your phone instead of the road could have the same tragic impact. Taking just five seconds to read a message is like driving the entire length of a football field blindfolded.
Dangers of Texting and Driving
Distracted driving crashes killed 19,515 people in the U.S. in the first half of 2023, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Although that number went down 3.3% from the year before (20,190 deaths in the first half of 2022), there’s still lots of work to be done in regards to risky distracted driving behavior.
The dangers of texting and driving remain a growing traffic safety problem according to the most recent Traffic Safety Culture Index. The survey, conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, found 93% of drivers believe typing or reading on a hand-held cellphone while driving to be very or extremely dangerous, but 36% admit to reading and 26% to admit to typing on a smartphone at least once while behind the wheel within the last month.
Just because you are stopped does not give you the green light to look at your phone. Using a hand-held device is illegal while driving and while stopped at a red light or stop sign in most states. And many drivers aren’t aware of the “hangover effect.” AAA Foundation researchers found that the brain does not does not reacclimate to the task of driving for up to half a minute after using smartphones or voice-to-text vehicle infotainment systems to send text messages, make phone calls or update social media. This could lead to inattention blindness, where your eyes are on the road but you’re not actually seeing what’s in front of you, which puts other drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians at risk.
How to Avoid the Dangers of Texting and Driving
AAA encourages all motorists to eliminate distracted driving by following these tips.
- Put it away. Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.
- Know where you’re going. If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.
- Pull over. If you must call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop first.
- Ask passengers for help. If riding with someone, seek their help to navigate, make a call or send a message.
- Be a good passenger. Speak out if the driver of your vehicle is distracted.
- Don’t be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.
- Everyone should prevent being intexticated. Just as drivers need to pay attention, so do pedestrians and bicyclists. Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling.
- Activate Do Not Disturb or Driving Focus. Setting up these features on iPhone or Android device will prevent calls and texts from coming in while you’re driving.
How to Set a Phone to Do Not Disturb
The key to staying focused is to try to forget you even have a phone.
How to Set Do Not Disturb on iPhone
- Swipe down from the top right of your home screen to reveal the Control Center.
- Tap the Focus button. This automatically turns on Do Not Disturb. To turn off, tap again.
- Go to Settings > Focus > Driving.
- Under Turn on Automatically, tap While Driving and select Automatically. This will stop incoming calls and texts when motion is detected.
How to Set Do Not Disturb on Andoird
- Swipe down from the top of your screen.
- Tap Do Not Disturb.
- Go to Settings > Google > Personal Safety.
- Turn on Silence Notifications While Driving.
For more information on distracted driving and to take the pledge to put your phone down while driving, visit AAA.com/DontDriveDistracted.