Request a Free Consultation

The Risks of Texting and Driving

Updated December 21, 2023 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

Life is more complex than it used to be, and there are a lot of things fighting for our attention. Stress at our jobs, busy lives outside of work, and technology, among other things, all take up space in our minds. When these distractions get in the way of a task as important and dangerous as driving, however, accidents happen.

Any activity that takes your mind, eyes, or hands off of the steering wheel is considered a distraction when you’re driving. This includes eating, grooming, adjusting the air conditioning controls, or talking to passengers.In today’s world, distracted driving now includes cell phone use of any kind. Here is what we know about the effects of cell phones on motorists.

Why Cell Phones Are So Dangerous

Today’s cell phones do a lot more than just make calls. They can be used for texting, taking pictures, entertainment, navigation, just about anything. This is one reason that texting and driving cases are complicated. Texting on your cell phone is one of the most dangerous types of distracted driving simply because it requires so much of your attention: You’re looking at your phone, thinking about what you’re about to type, and taking a hand off of the steering wheel to do it.

Some motorists think that because cell phones are a big part of their lives, they can text and drive. The fact of the matter is that humans aren’t wired to multitask to that degree. No one is “good” at texting and driving at the same time, and people pay for these decisions with their lives.

Looking at your phone to read or respond to a text message takes an average of five seconds. When you’re driving at 55 miles per hour, you would have traveled the length of a football field—all without looking at the road. It doesn’t matter if you look up frequently during that time or if you’ve stopped at a red light; it takes about three seconds for your mind to focus again after you’ve checked your phone. There simply isn’t enough time to text and drive. That time becomes even more dangerous if you factor in the dangers of speeding.

Types of Distracted Driving

What are the dangers of texting and driving? Distractions. Anything that takes your attention away from being an engaged driver counts as a distraction. Distractions are why texting and driving is so dangerous. Distractions endanger everyone around you on the road and in your car, including yourself. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that distracted driving falls into three categories:

  1. Visual: taking your eyes off of the road is a visual distraction
  2. Manual: any time your hand or hands are off of the steering wheel
  3. Cognitive: Your mind is focused on something other than driving. The effects of this impacts reaction time to changing surroundings. Daydreaming is another type of cognitive distraction, for example.

When it comes to the danger of texting while driving, all three types of distractions are put to practice. Looking at a phone means at least one hand is off of the wheel. Looking at a phone means not being attentive and alert to surroundings. When thoughts are preoccupied with the content on a device, thoughts are elsewhere while the main concentration should be on the task of driving. The dangers of texting and driving result from the distractions cell phones bring to a car environment.

Dangers of Texting And Driving: It’s in the Numbers

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in the U.S. 3,142 people died in car crashes because of distracted driving in 2019. That is 9% of all fatalities of that year. Though 9% may seem like a small number, let’s put it into another perspective: NHTSA reports that every single day in the United States, about 8 people die in car crashes due to a distracted driver.

How dangerous is texting while driving? Other staggering statistics of the dangers of texting while driving include:

  • 1 in 5 people involved in distracted driving fatalities were not in a vehicle. This includes pedestrians, cyclists, or other events outside of a vehicle
  • Approximately 9.7 percent of drivers were using devices at any daylight moment in 2018
  • 15 percent of injury crashes were the result of distracted driving
  • There is a 400 percent increase of time spent with eyes off the road while texting
  • The risk of a crash or near-crash increases by 95 percent when reaching for or dialing a phone
  • AAA found that 12% of crashes involved engaging with cell phones

Listed here are just a few of the dangers of texting and driving. Texting while behind the wheel causes too many crashes, injuries, and deaths that could be easily avoided by putting the phone away.

Most Affected Population of Texting While Driving

Texting and driving affect everyone on the road, but there are particular age groups who are more at risk simply because of the risky behaviors of texting while driving. The age group most affected by the risk of texting and driving are those between 15 and 19. Teens are at the highest risk when distractions of cell phones in the car come into play.

The CDC produced a study monitoring risky behaviors in teens. What they found revealed why texting and driving is so dangerous:

  • 39 percent of high school students sent texts or emails while driving at least once in 30 days
  • Texting and emailing were just as common no matter a student’s GPA. Teens with As were just as likely to engage in texting and driving as those with Ds or Fs.
  • Students who were on their phone were also more likely to not wear seat belts, drive with someone who had been drinking, and even drink and drive themselves

This study is not the only shocking information about age and distraction.

  • The CDC states 25 percent of distracted drivers who died because of car accidents were between the ages of 20 and 29
  • According to NHTSA, 7 percent of distracted driving fatalities in 2018 were teenagers 15 to 19 years old
  • Drivers ages 16-24 are on their phone more than any other age group

Indiana’s Cell Phone Laws

Each state makes its own laws about distracted driving and cell phones. In Indiana, drivers under 18 aren’t allowed to use cell phones or other electronic devices while operating a vehicle. It doesn’t matter if they’re talking or texting or if the device is hands-free.

Drivers over the age of 18 are allowed to use hands-free cell phones while driving with restrictions on typing, transmitting, or reading emails and text messages. Both laws are primary laws, meaning that a police officer can pull you over for cell phone use without seeing another violation. The maximum fine for cell phone use while driving is $500.

The state has even designed a specialty license plate to discourage phone use.

Consequences of Texting and Driving

Why is it dangerous to text and drive? If the accident rate and fatality numbers are not enough, there are other consequences that come from texting and driving.

Your insurance could go up

Not only do you pose a threat to yourself and those around you if you text and drive, but because of those actions and consequences, your insurance will increase. Even if you do not get into an accident and are pulled over for texting and driving, you can get a ticket which will then increase your insurance.

Property damage

One danger of texting and driving is single-vehicle crashes. Even if you do not get into a collision with another car, you can severely damage your own property and injure yourself.

You can face legal consequences

As stated above, it is illegal to be on your phone to text in Indiana.

How to Prevent Texting and Driving Accidents

The easiest way to prevent distracted driving accidents is to stay focused. If you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle, your job is to make sure that you’re alert, attentive, and driving defensively. You can’t control whether a driver in another car is using a cell phone, but by staying distraction-free, you can be alert enough to react to their driving.

Parents can talk to their children about this early and model good driving behavior. Set rules about never using wireless devices while driving, and have conversations with your teenagers about keeping their eyes and minds on the road. Get involved with local campaigns and organizations to raise awareness of the problems of texting and driving.

Thousands of people are injured or killed in distracted driving accidents every year, and we would much rather that not be the case. Do what you can to stop yourself and the people around you from distracted driving.

Contact an Automobile Accident Attorney Today

The prevalence of cell phones in today’s world means that, unfortunately, accidents involving distracted drivers using their phones will happen. It’s a tragedy when a preventable accident happens because of a few seconds of distraction.

If you or someone you love was injured in a traffic accident as a result of a distracting cell phone, contact an Indianapolis auto accident attorney from Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

Contact Us

Let WKW put our experience to work for you. Contact us for your free case evaluation.


Or, call us today at (317) 920-6400

Located In Indianapolis
Back to Top