The phone buzzes in your pocket on the way to the store. You're driving down a four-lane road, a route you take every day. It's just a mile and a half to the store, but you don't want to wait.
Do you dig the phone out and see who texted you? To save time, do you send that reply before you park? On a familiar road, do you think you can easily text and drive because this is an "easy" drive?
A lot of people do ... And a lot of people crash
In fact, some studies have shown that around 3,000 young drivers, many of whom are teens, get killed annually in accidents caused by distraction. Technically, a distraction is far more than texting, encompassing anything that splits attention between the road and that activity. Certainly, though, texting is a huge culprit in the smartphone age.
It's often easier to think of statistics based on their daily average. If 3,000 people die annually, that's about eight young people passing away daily, or one every three hours.
Shockingly, distracted driving is now so common it's more dangerous than drunk driving. These completely avoidable accidents kill around 2,700 teenagers every year.
The newest danger since drunk driving
Parents put a lot of time into telling their kids not to drive drunk. Schools chime in. Police run awareness campaigns. These are important, but parents, schools and authorities must realize that a teen with a cellphone is more likely to cause a deadly accident than a teen with a beer.
It's not just teens, but there's a reason to focus on them specifically. Studies have found that no other age group has as many distracted drivers. About 10 percent of all of the fatal wrecks involving distraction included those between 15 and 19.
Experts point out that the allure is to do it quickly. Teens may not keep staring down at the phone for five seconds, driving the length of a football field without looking at the road. They may not carry out extensive conversations.
They may just try to take a peek
It's that "it won't happen to me" mentality. It's the phone buzzing on a familiar road. Sure, you know the risk is there, but certainly you can fish your phone out and glance down, just to see who sent the message. Or even to see what it says. Surely that's not enough to cause a crash, right?
The statistics show that it absolutely is. Thousands of people get killed every year. More than a dozen young people die every two days. Texting and driving is incredibly risky, it's negligent and it's important for families to know their rights in the wake of an avoidable and tragic crash.