Texting, cell phones, eating and other distractions are causing an increase in traffic accidents.
OMG! This is nothing to LOL about. Texting while driving is one of the leading causes of accidents for teenagers and it claims thousands of lives each year. Texting while driving also reduces a driver's reaction time so much that it's the same as driving after consuming four beers1.
Additionally, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that drivers are four times more likely to get into an accident when texting and driving. In 2017, 3,166 people were killed in traffic accidents involving distracted driving, including texting, with an estimated 599 deaths of nonoccupants, such as pedestrians or cyclists2.
Distracted driving is more than texting. Distracted driving occurs any time a driver takes their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel or their mind off their primary task, which is driving safely.
Activities that can cause distracted driving include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating or drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Grooming (shaving, applying makeup, etc.)
- Reading a map
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD or MP3
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that reading a text takes a driver's eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, this is similar to driving the length of a football field blindfolded3. Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision than attentive drivers4. Those simply aren't good odds.
At the very least, a traffic accident caused by distracted driving is certain to lead to an increase in a driver's car insurance rates.
These common sense steps can help prevent accidents and save lives:
- Text messages can wait until your car is turned off.
- Pull over to the side of the road to read that map.
- Input the address into the navigation system before you leave.
- Don't blast the radio.
- Allow enough time so you can eat at the restaurant and not while you're driving.
Mercury, like many insurance companies, offers car insurance discounts for drivers with good driving records.
 TeenSafe, Texting and Driving Crashes Facts and Statistics
 NHTSA, Distracted Driving in Fatal Crashes 2017
 NHTSA, Distracted Driving
 Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month