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Texting nightmares: How texting impacts concentration on the road

While many people think about texting as an act that only teenagers do behind the wheel, the reality is that there are people of all ages who become distracted by texting and driving. Although most people agree that texting and driving is dangerous, most people do it anyway. In a new survey, 98 percent of motorists who own cellphones and text regularly said they were aware of the dangers, yet three-quarters of them admitted to texting while driving, despite laws against it in states like Iowa. 

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. 

So why do thousands of people die in texting-related crashes every year? It doesn't just distract you in one way. Texting and driving takes your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road and your mind off driving. When you're not focusing on what's ahead of you, you're much more likely to hit another vehicle or object. No text is more important than your safety and the safety of others with whom you share the roadway.

How long does it take to get into a crash because of texting?

It takes only seconds. When you look down at a text, you may read it for two or three seconds. That doesn't seem like long, but when you're driving at 55 mph, you're traveling hundreds of feet without seeing what's in front of you. In that time, a deer could jump in front of your vehicle, traffic could stop ahead of you or someone could cut you off. Even if you don't crash, there's a higher likelihood of near-misses that may leave you feeling frazzled.

Statistics show that 10 percent of all crashes resulting in fatalities were a result of distractions in 2015. That's an estimated 3,500 deaths as a result of people texting, using their smartphones and being distracted in other ways. While there are other causes of crashes, like drowsiness, heart attacks, vehicular failures and weather conditions, distracted driving crashes are one of the few that could be eliminated with better driving techniques.

Is it legal to text and drive?

No. In fact, all states except for Montana have laws that specifically prohibit texting and driving. Not all states treat the act in the same way, so some are more lenient than others. However, thanks to these laws, studies have shown a reduction in fatalities caused by distracted drivers by around 3 percent.

Anyone hurt by a texting driver is in a position to hold that person responsible. The driver who was texting may be charged by the police, and the victims and their families may seek a lawsuit or claim through other means. It's necessary for people to put down their phones and consider their actions to prevent these crashes.

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