Texting while driving is becoming a bigger problem in proportion to the technological growth that fuels it, according to a numbers compilation provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (or NHTSA). 3,450 U.S. citizens perished in 2016 because they were distracted while driving in 2016, while injuries were already at a staggering 391,000 the previous year.
Age might not be as much of a factor as everyone would like to believe, either. Nearly half of those drivers aged 25 to 39 have used their phone to text or message another person while they were on the road. Laws against this type of distraction seem to do no good.
Those statistics might not do enough to get the message across, because it’s difficult for the average person to put into perspective how many car accidents of any kind there are in a single year. Simply dialing a number on your phone increases the chances of a car accident by six times, which means you’re increasing every other driver’s chances of getting into a car accident by a near-equal amount. If you’re texting while driving, you increase the risk by a scary 23 times.
Parents aren’t doing enough to keep their own traffic infractions from their children according to a 2012 survey done by Liberty Mutual and Students Against Drunk Driving. More than half of adolescents admitted to seeing their parents engage in distracted driving by texting at the wheel.
Remember what your vehicle looked like a couple decades ago? There were fewer lights, fewer buttons, fewer gadgets; fewer things that could go wrong at any given time. That’s part of the problem. We have to pay attention to more just so we can drive a new vehicle, and that doesn’t even take into account the features that are supposed to make us safer.
Take newer autonomous features like automatic lane-changing or Tesla’s autopilot, which puts the car in driverless mode on highways: those features give people more of a reason to take a look at their phone or try to eat a quick bite when they should be paying more attention to the road, instead. We might not be truly safe until complete automation is introduced.