Provided as a PUBLIC SERVICE to our readers, this is the first in a series of posts written by our youngest team member, Emma Lively. Like most teens, Emma has seen first-hand the dangers involved in inappropriate texting. More posts of this kind to follow.

In the time it takes to read this sentence, you would have traveled 100 yards in a car if you were driving. That makes sending or reading a text or email message on your cell phone a deadly distraction. In fact, almost 25% of auto collisions involve cell phones, and that number is quickly going up.

Texting and driving makes wrecks almost 23x more likely, but what people don’t often consider is dialing the phone almost doubles your chances, along with just listening to someone on the phone. Using your phone in the car involves three types of distractions:

  1. Cognitive distraction takes your mind off driving.
  2. Manual distraction takes your hands off the wheel.
  3. Visual distraction takes your eyes off the road.

If you are texting while behind the wheel you are six times more likely to cause an accident than if you were intoxicated, it’s almost the same as drinking four beers. Your brake reaction time is slowed by up to 18%. Teens who text and drive have the same reaction time as a 70-year-old driver. 

Despite what you might think, many parents text and drive with their kids in the car. Through this they lead by example, causing many new teen drivers to think they can also text and drive. Although it’s fatally dangerous, almost 27% of adults text and drive and 77% of people think they can safely text and drive. 

At least 1.6 million wrecks each year are caused by a distracted driver on a cell phone and more than 3 thousand people have been killed. 400,000 people a year are injured due to texting and driving. Drivers under the age of 20 have more distraction-related fatal crashes than other age.

However important what you are communicating may seem, teen drivers and adults need to learn that it can wait until they are no longer behind the wheel.