Yes, you read that right. Statistics show that deaths related to distracted driving are actually decreasing in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, the number of distracted driving fatalities decreased 2.2 percent from 3,526 in 2015 to 3,450 in 2016 while deaths from other reckless behaviors – including speeding, alcohol impairment and not wearing seatbelts – continued to rise.
This means the national public awareness campaigns about the dangers of texting while driving are working, but not enough. Distracted driving remains a major cause of death on the road, especially for teens, who make up the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes.
Distracted driving is any activity – including talking or texting on the phone, eating and drinking, talking to others in the vehicle, or fiddling with the radio or air-conditioner – that diverts a driver’s attention. Texting is a serious distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. If you’re driving 55 miles an hour, that’s like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed!
Although statistics show that one in 10 crashes involve at least one distracted driver, it’s widely believed that the number of crashes caused by distracted driving is under-reported. A poll taken by AAA shows that 94 percent of teen drivers understand the dangers of texting and driving, but 35 percent still do it.
In Florida, law enforcement officers can’t pull you over for texting while driving, but they can give you a ticket and a fine – as long as they pull you over for a separate reason, such as speeding or failure to obey a traffic signal.
To drive safely, you must keep your eyes on the road at all times. Talk to your loved ones and encourage them to drive safely.