Texting while driving is a common practice. According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, a division of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 660,000 drivers manipulate electronic devices, including cell phones, during any given moment when the sun is up. At nighttime, these activities may be even more common.
Distracted driving is responsible for thousands of deaths each year and teens are at particularly high risk. Teenagers represent the largest proportion of distracted drivers and ten percent of drivers younger than 20 are distracted when involved in fatal vehicle crashes. According to a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute survey, 25 percent of teens admitted to responding to a text message at least once each time they drive. Twenty percent copped to having multiple-message, extended text conversations when driving.
Taking eyes off the road for just five seconds to text represents enough time to travel the length of a football field blindfolded when going 55mph, according to a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study. This is certainly enough time to get into an accident. In fact, texting and other portable device tasks that involve manual and visual skills increase automobile crash risks by three times, reports the same study.
The best way to enhance the safety of everyone inside and outside of a vehicle is to avoid texting while driving. However, the temptation may be too strong for teenage drivers who want to remain connected. Parents may need to install mobile device apps that prevent texting while driving. DriveScribe, an app for iOS and Android devices, is one example. In addition to text messages, this app blocks emails and phone calls. It also tracks driving behavior and vehicle speed and provides rewards points for safe driving that are redeemable for retail gift cards.
DriveOFF is an app for Android devices that disables phone notifications and displays a screensaver once the car reaches 10mph. Another Android app, Live2Txt, lets drivers block incoming calls and texts and silence notifications. Senders receive a customized message that the driver is unavailable. This app can also be used when individuals are off the road at events where they do not wish to be disturbed.
Texting while driving is against the law in 44 states and Washington, D.C. Many states prohibit all hand-held cell phone use while driving. Parents who want to keep their teens safer behind the wheel should consider installing one of the mobile device apps designed to prevent texting while driving. It could mean the difference between life and death.