Texting and Driving

Because it’s a common—even daily—activity for most people, sending a text doesn’t seem dangerous. However, when you’re doing it behind the wheel, there are a litany of other factors at play. Driving is a privilege because of the inherent risk and responsibility we all need to assume out on the road.

When you choose to text and drive, you’re threatening every single driver around you—and placing more value on that text message than yourself and your fellow drivers.1

  • In Michigan, the law that bans texting while driving has been on the books since 2010, but the problem persists.2
  • When you’re engulfed in a texting conversation, it’s easy to forget you’re sharing the road with other people. In just the 5 seconds it takes to send or read a short text message, you’ve already zoomed past the length of a football field (traveling at 55 MPH) with minimal attention on the road ahead.
  • Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it incorporates all types of driving distractions:
    • Visual: Takes your eyes off the road.
    • Manual: Takes your hands off the steering wheel.
    • Cognitive: Takes your focus away from safe driving.
  • The penalties for texting while driving could include any of the following:
    • Hefty fines.
    • License suspension.
    • A rise in auto insurance rates.
    • Prison time.1
  • The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.
  • Nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving.
  • 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.
  • Texting while driving is 6x more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.
  • Answering a text takes away your attention for about five seconds. Traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to travel the length of a football field.
  • Texting while driving causes a 400% increase in time spent with eyes off the road.
  • Of all cell phone related tasks, texting is by far the most dangerous activity.

4 tips to spot a distracted driver:3

  1. Veering left or right of center. Thanks to yellow and white lines that flank the roads, it’s easy to tell if the car ahead of you is having a problem driving in a straight line. If they’re veering to the left or right, it’s a pretty good indication that they’re not paying attention to the road ahead of them, making it a good idea for you to pull over or put additional space between yourself and the vehicle in front of you.
  2. Braking suddenly. One of the biggest dangers associated with distracted driving is that it prevents drivers from slowing down when another applies the brakes. A classic indication of a multitasking motorist is when someone slams on the brakes when a car in front of them stops, seemingly unaware that this person was coming to a stop. Avoiding rear-ending the car in front of you is why you should always have plenty of space between you and other cars.
  3. Lengthy pauses at intersections. Red means stop and green means go, of course, but when drivers are distracted, it may take them several seconds to get moving again after the light changes. If it takes more than a few seconds for them to react to the green light, that may be an indication they’re fiddling with their cell phones or in some other way not paying attention.
  4. Headphones in ears. Drivers who have headphones on may not necessarily be using them, but they’re definitely a telltale sign that they’re multitasking, as it usually involves either changing a song on their phone or dialing a phone number. According to the National Safety Council, voice-to-text devices can be just as dangerous as typing texts manually.

To prevent texting while driving, follow these tips:3

  • Put your phone out of reach.
  • If you are going to use your phone for navigational purposes, make sure that it is mounted to the dashboard.
  • Make a commitment to not use your phone while driving.
  • Use an app to block incoming texts or calls. Some apps can send an auto response back, letting the sender know that you are driving and will respond when you are parked.
  • The DMV reviewed several distracted driving apps4:
    • LifeSaver– The app blocks the ability to use your phone while driving and automatically lets loved ones know once you’ve safely arrived at your destination. 
    • AT&T DriveMode– Helps keep drivers from distraction by blocking any phone talking or texting and driving. 
    • Mojo – You receive an overall Mojo score based on how often you’re swiping, typing, and taking calls on your phone. For each minute you drive without engaging in these distracting behaviors, you earn one point. When you reach 300 points, you can spin a prize wheel for the chance to win a $5 gift card to Amazon, Starbucks, or Dunkin’ Donuts.