Distracted driving has been around since Chrysler added a mini record player to vehicles. However, cell phones brought it to the forefront, prompting states to pass laws. Statistics show how widespread the issue still is in McKinney, Texas, and across the country.
Distracted driving overview
Distracted driving is any activity that takes the driver’s attention from the road, even for a few seconds. A visual distraction is the most common type of distracted driving, which takes the driver’s eyes off the road.
A manual distraction causes the driver to remove a hand from the steering wheel, such as applying makeup or eating. While some of these activities are not illegal in many states, they can raise accident risk. A cognitive distraction occurs when the driver’s mind is not on the road, such as daydreaming.
Texas prohibits drivers from using electronic messaging while driving and minor drivers from using handheld devices. Fully licensed adult drivers are not prohibited from talking on cell phones while driving, but city laws commonly vary. The penalty for distracted driving is $25 to $99 for the first offense and $100 to $200 for the second.
Distracted driving stats
In Texas, distracted driving caused 367 deaths and over 2,500 injuries in motor vehicle accidents in 2020. In 2020, distracted driving caused one out of five vehicle accidents, which equaled 364 fatalities and 2,200 injuries in Texas. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports distracted driving is six times more dangerous than drunk driving.
One study found nine out of ten drivers admitted to using smartphones while driving the previous year. A State Farm report revealed 90% of drivers know using smartphones while driving is illegal, but did it anyway. Adults ages 20-29 are at the most risk of distracted accidents and are involved in 25% of fatal crashes in 2018.
Drivers injured in distracted driving accidents may pursue damages from at-fault drivers. However, they must prove the driver was distracted, which commonly requires crash experts.