Modern drivers are protected by everything from airbags to automatic braking systems. Nevertheless, traffic fatalities are on the rise. Although a combination of factors may be contributing to the trend, one cause stands out as easily avoided: distracted driving.
The CDC defines distracted driving as anything that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel or your mind off the task. This can include things like eating or checking a map. Texting, which requires our hands, eyes and concentration, is one of the worst forms of distraction.
Texting while driving is illegal in Hawaii, as is using a hand-held phone for other purposes while driving. Any driver caught texting while driving will receive a $250 fine. A proposed bill would raise that fine to $750. That may seem like a lot, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to loss of property—and life—that distracted driving causes.
If you’re not convinced yet, the following statistics may change your mind.
- In 2015, 35,092 people died in car accidents on U.S. roads. Compared to 2014, when 32,744 people died, this is a 7.2 percent increase. It is the largest increase in almost 50 years. (NHTSA)
- Of the 35,092 people who died in 2015, 3,477 people died in crashes linked to distracted driving. This accounts for 8.8 percent of all deaths, and it is an increase of 280 deaths compared to 2014. (NHTSA)
- Each day, eight people die and 1,161 are injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. (CDC)
- Texting makes the risk of a crash or near-crash 23 times more likely for heavy vehicles and trucks. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute)
- At any time during the day, an average of 660,000 drivers are distracted by electronic devices. (NHTSA)
- Drivers who text take their eyes off the road for an average of about five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, this is long enough to travel the length of a football field. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute)
- Among teens between the ages of 16 and 17, 34 percent admit they have texted while driving. (Pew Research Center)
- Among youths between the ages of 12 and 17, 48 percent say they have been in the car while the driver was texting and 40 percent say they have been in the car when the driver’s cell phone use put them in danger. (Pew Research Center)
These numbers prove how serious a problem distracted driving is. Do your part to reverse the upward trend in traffic fatalities. Obey Hawaii’s laws against texting while driving.