Why is texting and driving so dangerous?

The statistics about the rise in distracted driving accidents on Missouri roadways are grim. Since 2014, cell-phone related crashes in the Show Me State are up 35%, and texting and driving is the most dangerous form of distracted driving, putting drivers 23 times more likely to be in a critical accident while texting and driving.

As a result, 48 states have banned texting and driving for drivers of all ages. Only Missouri and Montana have yet to make that move. In Missouri, only drivers under age 21 aren’t allowed to text and drive. Everyone else gets a pass for now. And despite how dangerous texting and driving is, in the last legislative session, Missouri lawmakers failed to make any real progress on passing legislation to stop it.

The types of distracted driving

One of the reasons texting and driving is so dangerous is that it encompasses all three types of distracted driving:

  • Manual distraction
  • Cognitive distraction
  • Visual distraction

A manual distraction is anything that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel or has a driver juggling an object while also having his or her hands on the wheel. Texting with a cellphone in hand certainly counts as a manual distraction.

A cognitive distraction is a distraction that keeps drivers from thinking about driving and the road and other vehicles around them. When a driver is composing a text message, he or she is thinking about the content of that message—not driving, resulting in a cognitive distraction.

Finally, a visual distraction happens anytime a driver isn’t watching the road ahead. When composing or reading a text message, a driver’s eyes are on the phone, counting as a visual distraction.

Slower response times

Anytime drivers are distracted, their response times are slower. Distracted drivers are not as quick to notice traffic slowing down ahead or if another driver quickly moves into their lane ahead of them.

In fact, according to the National Highway Safety Administration, if you compose or read a text while driving, your eyes will be off the road for five seconds. If you are driving at a speed of 55 miles per hour, that means you’ll cover a whole football field in that time—plenty of time to cause a devastating accident.

How to avoid texting and driving

Texting while driving isn’t always easy to avoid. However, by planning ahead, you can do it. First, install a mount for your phone in your car and use hands-free features as much as possible. Second, if you still face temptation to text and drive, turn your phone off and put it in the back seat.

No text is worth dying for or causing an accident that seriously harms someone else. The safest way to avoid a distracted driving accident is to limit your distractions, especially from your cell phone.