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Distracted driving and your phone: It’s not just texting

It’s likely you’ve heard about the dangers of texting and driving. Even if a text only requires a few seconds to read, those few seconds can result in disaster. In the time it takes to read just one text, a car can drive the length of a football field. You’re six times more likely to crash a car by reading just one text.

It’s also why so many states have banned texting and driving. Right now, every state except Arizona, Missouri, Montana and Texas has laws against reading and sending texts while driving a vehicle.

Distracted driving behaviors are wide-ranging

Yes, most people think “texting” when they think distracted driving, but distracted driving is much more than that.

Distracted driving is anything that causes you to switch your attention from driving to another activity. Examples include:

  • Searching through your CD carrier or reaching for your phone because you want to hear some music
  • Answering a quick email from work
  • Calling home to say you’ll be home in 15 minutes
  • Playing Pokémon Go
  • Scrolling through Instagram
  • Using the Snapchat speed filter
  • Looking at a roadside billboard if your eyes aren’t on the road

Drivers distracted by any causes have been shown to be responsible for eight fatalities per day on the nation’s highways. They also cause 1,000 injuries, every single day.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have banned cellphone use altogether for drivers. They are trying to cut down on traffic accidents.

Accidents are also widespread

An astonishing 666,000 Americans are using their cellphones while driving every minute. Now, although other activities than cellphone use can be distracted driving, cellphones themselves present multiple opportunities for distraction.

Seventy percent of drivers use their cellphones while driving, for all activities, including talking.

Forty percent of drivers use social media while driving. One-quarter of them are using Facebook. Fourteen percent are using Twitter, and the same percentage are using Instagram while driving. Additionally, one-third of all drivers check their email while driving.

Is checking your Facebook or Twitter feed or sending an email worth running into someone—and possibly killing them, yourself or both? I think you know the answer.

It’s not just young people

Just as some people think distracted driving is all about texting, many people think teenagers are to blame for cellphone use while driving.

It’s true that a lot of teens do this. Seventy percent of them use cellphone apps while driving, with 74 percent using Facebook.

Some studies do say that drivers between the ages of 18 and 29 use cellphones more while driving than any other age group.

But that doesn’t mean other age groups aren’t. Fifty-three percent of parents use cellphones while stopped at a red light. That increases the chance they will continue to use it once the light changes—and 41 percent of parents text while the car is in motion.

Distracting driving is not just texting. Any behavior done on your phone while driving is distracted driving, and all forms cause fatalities and accidents every day. The safety message is clear: Don’t drive distracted.