Skip to content

Texting and Driving Statistics

There are few riskier activities that people engage in than distracted driving. There are over 260 million motor vehicles in the U.S. and 224 million cell phones. Those numbers often collide in dangerous ways: using a cell phone when driving contributes to 9 motor vehicle fatalities per day. Teen drivers usually account for 6 of those 9 distracted driving fatalities due to their inexperience. Cell phone use while driving is more hazardous to teens’ lifespans than most diseases.

There are three types of distracted driving, manual, cognitive, and visual. Using a cell phone, particularly texting while driving, combines all of the risk factors because it requires the driver to turn his mental attention to the device, manipulate it with his hand, and to look at it. The Institute of Industrial Engineers estimated that texting and driving is 20 times more likely to result in an accident than driving while intoxicated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 42 percent of teens surveyed admitted to texting and driving in the 30 days prior to the poll. Drivers under age 20 have the highest rate of distracted driving accidents, making car crashes the leading cause of death for that age group.

Cell phones are the primary distractions in 14 percent of fatal vehicle accidents, accounting for over 430 deaths per year, according to the Insurance Information Institute. A very sobering statistic comes from Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute: typical drivers of all ages participate in distracted driving of some sort about 50 percent of the time. Just taking one’s eyes off the road for mere seconds at 55 miles per hour results in vehicles speeding hundreds of yards without an attentive driver.

In addition to drivers and their passengers, another 550 pedestrians and bicyclists are killed each year in distracted driving accidents, says the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

Talking on a cell phone while driving is now illegal in at least 18 states, and some include onerous penalties: Iowa and New Hampshire lead the pack of most punitive states, levying fines for each infraction. A fatal accident resulting from cell phone use in Iowa is considered a felony punishable by 10 years in prison. And a third distracted driving infraction in New Hampshire can carry a two-year license suspension.

Along with the deadly toll of lives lost, experts estimate that property damages from auto accidents in total is over $800 billion per year. Distracted driving accident damages account for $129 billion per year. These figures include lost productivity, court costs, emergency services, medical and rehabilitation services, and costs to employers.

Driving While Texting: LOL to TTYL

  • 23% In 2011, at least 23% of auto collisions involoved cell phones. That is 1,3 million crashes
  • 5 5 seconds - the minimal amount of time your attention is taken away from the road when you're texting and driving
  • 55 mph If you are traveling at 55mph, this equals driving the length of a football field without looking at the road

With the longest Eyes-Off-The-Road time of all distracted driving activities,
text messaging makes a crush up to 23X more likely

Other activities that increase risk of crash:

  • 2.8X 2.8X more risk when dialing
  • 1.3X 1.3X more risk when talking or listening
  • 1.4X 1.4X more risk when reaching for device

A Big Temptation For Teens

13% of drivers age 18-20 involved in a car wrecks
admitted to texting or talking on their mobile devices at the time of the crash.

  • 34% 34% say they have texted while driving
  • 82% 82% of Americans age 16-17 own cell phones
  • 52% 52% say they have talked on a cell phone while driving

Some Don't Think It's A Problem

  • 77% 77% of young adults are very or somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving
  • 55% 55% of young adult drivers claim it's easy text while they drive
  • 10% Teens who text while driving spend approximately 10% of their driving time outside of their lane

But Adults Do It, Too!

  • 48% 48% of kids age 12-17 have been in a car while the driver was texting
  • 48% 48% of young drivers have seen their parents drive while talking on a cell phone
  • 15% 15% of young drivers have seen their parents text while driving
  • 27% 27% of adults have sent or received text messages while driving

Not to mention...

1 in 5 drivers of all ages confess to surfing the web while driving

...and how do they justify it?

  • Reading a text is safer than composing and sending one
  • They hold the phone near the windshield "for better visibility"
  • They increase following distance
  • They text only at a stop sign or red light

What Can Be Done About It?


  • 10 States 10 states plus D.C. prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones
  • 32 States 32 states and D.C. prohibit novice drivers from cell phone use
  • 39 States 39 states plus D.C. prohibit all drivers from text messaging

Technology For Parents

  • Drivecam
    Monitors a driver's activity and provides real-time feedback with video
  • AT&T Drive Mode
    Free anti-texting and driving mobile app for Android and Blackberry
  • Text-Free-Driving Pledge
    Teens and parents can also take the text-free-driving pledge

Social Media

Anti-texting and driving awareness...

  • On Facebook & Twitter:
  • On Blogs:


One project in Belgium tricked teen drivers into thinking that in order to pass their driving test, they had to be able to successfully text and drive on a closed course. The results, which can be seen on YouTube, are funny and frightening.

Some of the Students Reactions:

"If this becomes law, I'll stop driving."

"It's impossible."

"What you're asking is dangerous."

"People will die."

"Honestly, I feel like an idiot who can't drive!"