Smartphone Use Spells Trouble for Drivers as Distracted Driving Skyrockets

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Distracted driving has skyrocketed in the past 13 years and experts say that smartphones are to blame. People are engaging on social media apps, reading text messages and e-mails — and even watching videos while behind the wheel.

The result has been a surge in distracted driving deaths, reversing decades of declines due to vehicle safety enhancements.

In 2022, more than 46,000 died in motor vehicle incidents and about eight people are killed every day in distracted-driving crashes, according to the National Safety Council.

To curtail these deaths, most states have adopted laws barring the use of smartphones while driving.

Worse, despite knowing the dangers of using their smartphone while behind the wheel, motorists continue to engage with their devices while driving. A recent study by State Farm found an amazing lack of restraint among drivers who said they interact with their smartphone when driving. Here are the main findings:

  • Watching videos on a smartphone: 77% of respondents said that it was distracting to very distracting and 73% said the behavior was likely or highly likely to increase the risk of crashing.
  • Interacting with smartphone apps: 71% said that it was distracting or very distracting; 76% said it was likely or highly likely to increase the risk of crashing.
  • Reading or sending text messages: 67% said that it was distracting or very distracting; 78% said it was likely or highly likely to increase the risk of crashing.
  • Recording videos on a smartphone: 67% said that it was distracting or very distracting; 70% said it was likely or highly likely to increase the risk of crashing.

The biggest smartphone distractions

Another State Farm study found that 19% of drivers used their phone while driving to:

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  • Search for and read driving directions.
  • Read e-mails.
  • Look for specific information of immediate interest, such as where to find a restaurant.
  • Read/update social networking sites such as X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook.
  • Write/send e-mails and text messages.

When asked about when they use their smartphones while in the car, drivers responded:

  • When stopped at traffic lights
  • During heavy traffic
  • When driving alone
  • During daylight hours only
  • On long highway drives.

What to do

If you are one of those who continues to use their smartphone while driving, despite the risks, you should take control.

Tip 1: Don’t touch your phone. Focus on the road and stay attentive to your environment, other drivers and road conditions.

Tip 2: Take the pledge not to use your phone while driving. Make a commitment to:

  • Never text or use an app while driving.
  • Always keep your eyes on the road when moving.
  • Spread the word to your friends and family that distracted driving kills.

Tip 3: Address your bad habits. Think about what your smartphone is pulling you into doing while driving. Once you know what is drawing you to engage in this dangerous behavior, you can figure out ways to stop it. You may want to consider deleting the apps that are most distracting.

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