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Texting and Driving—A Growing Epidemic!

A majority of Americans agree that texting while driving is dangerous, but in a culture with people spending more and more screen time, keeping phones out of their hands while driving in the car is easier said than done.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – A majority of Americans agree that texting while driving is dangerous, but in a culture with people spending more and more screen time, keeping phones out of their hands while driving in the car is easier said than done.

            Although 87% of people in a government study agreed that it is dangerous to text or check e-mail while driving, many said they could not resist the urge to use their phones behind the wheel.  The behavior is one that people cannot seem to shake.  In study after study, a vast majority of people, young and old, admit they have a hard time controlling the need to check their phones while driving.  For those who continue to text and drive, it's just a matter of time before it catches up to them and the consequences could be devastating.

            Recent findings by the executive director of brand management in a well-known corporation found that 27 percent of people admit to checking Facebook while driving, and 14 percent of people say they check Twitter.  What they consider a pretty innocent look or glance at a post is just as significant as a text.

            Further research revealed that people still didn’t feel these findings were really personally relevant to them—they felt like they were an exception to the rule.  Many teens indicated they believed nothing bad could happen to them and they are not susceptible to the repercussions of risky behaviors involved in texting while driving.  According to government data, 3,154 people were killed and 424,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in the U.S. in 2013.

            Recently, texting while driving has surpassed driving while under the influence as the number one cause of teenage deaths in the United States. Texting while driving is responsible for over 3,000 teenage deaths every year,   Laws have been instated to combat texting while driving, but so far it has done little to reduce the problem.  Texting while driving is never acceptable.

            According to a 2014 poll, 45% of Americans admitted to reading text messages and 37% admitted to sending them while driving.  This number is disturbingly more than drivers who drink and drive.  The US Department of Transportation reports that at any given moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving.  Age does not appear to be a factor for distracted driving. 

            The dangers of texting and driving are real.  In 2011, at least 23% of auto collisions involved cell phones--that is 1.3 million crashes.  Studies show that the minimal amount of time attention is taken away from the road when one is texting and driving is about five seconds.  If a person is traveling at a speed of 55 mph they will be driving the length of a football field without looking at the road.  Of all the "eyes off the road" activities drivers face, text messaging makes it 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash.  Just dialing a phone causes a person to be more than 2 times more likely to be involved in a wreck.  Talking on, listening to, or even just reaching for a device creates a risk, too.  Thirteen percent of drivers, age 18-20, involved in car wrecks admitted they were texting or talking on their mobile devices at the time of the crash.  Teens who text while driving, spend approximately 10% of their driving time outside of their lane.

   About one fourth of vehicle crashes are estimated to result from the driver being inattentive or distracted.  As more wireless communication, entertainment and driver assistance systems enter the vehicle market, the incidence of distraction-related crashes can be expected to rise significantly.  Adults are just as likely to text and drive as teens.  Parents must set the example.  Parents must emphasize the consequences of texting while driving.  Parents must not text and drive!  Almost half of young drivers have seen their parents drive while talking on a cell phone and 15% have seen their parents text while driving.  Education starts early where safety is concerned! 

For more information about meetings, Garland County 4-H Club membership or program benefits, contact the Garland County Cooperative Extension office located at 236 Woodbine in Hot Springs, or call 501-623-6841 or 922-4703.  You may also contact Linda Bates at lbates@uaex.edu.  Additional information is available at our website:  www.uaex.edu/garland

Master Gardener Information

Master Gardener meetings are held on the 3rd Thursday of each month at the Elks Lodge.  They’re open to the public and guests are always welcome. For more information call the Extension Office at 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email Allen Bates at abates@uaex.edu

EHC Information

Are you interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers Club? EHC is the largest volunteer organization in the state. For information on EHC contact Jessica Vincent on 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email her at jvincent@uaex.edu.

 

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

By Linda Bates
County Extension Agent - 4-H
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Linda Bates
County Extension Agent - 4-H
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
236 Woodbine Hot Springs AR 71901
(501) 623-6841
lbates@uaex.edu

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  • The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

    The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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