Texting and Driving Statistics 2021

Author: Lena Borelli
Published: July 30, 2021


America has a dangerous epidemic of texting while driving that strongly increases risk to everyone on the roads. At any given moment, 660,000 drivers are using a cell phone while operating a vehicle. Every year, about 400 fatal crashes are caused by texting and driving, according to the NHTSA.

Top Statistics and facts

  • 660,000 drivers are using their cell phones while operating a vehicle at any moment in the day (NHTSA)
  • You are 20 times more likely to crash while texting and driving than you are when not using a cell phone (Virginia Tech)
  • Texting while driving has the same effect on your reaction time as if you had consumed four beers in a single hour (Drivesafeonline.org)
  • Texting distracts you long enough to travel the length of an entire football field with your eyes off the road, at 55 mph (Drivesafeonline.org)
  • 35% of teens admit to texting and driving, even though 94% of them understand the dangers (AAA)
    • 1 in 4 teens admit to responding to at least one text every time they drive (AAA)
    • 10% of parents and 20% of teens admit to having multi-text conversations while driving (AAA)
    • Teens who text while driving spend an average of 10% of their driving time outside of traffic lanes (Drivesafeonline.org)

Texting and driving deaths per year

About 400 fatal crashes happen each year as a direct result of texting and driving. That number increases to over 30,000 when you consider distracted driving as a whole, according to the NHTSA. While texting and driving-specific crashes are decreasing in recent years, overall fatal crashes due to distracted driving are on the rise.

In the most recent available data, you can see that texting and driving deaths were on the rise in 2013, peaked in 2015 and 2016, and dropped in 2017.

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) says that it takes about five seconds to read a text. During that time, you drive about the length of a football field at around 55mph, which is 360 feet – quite a long way to have your eyes off the road. The issue is not just the momentary lapse in attention, but also the additional time it takes for your eyes to reorient to the road and other cars around you.

Teens and young drivers are especially susceptible to the dangers of texting and driving when they have fewer years of experience under their belt. This inexperience, coupled with the lack of advanced driving skills, can equate to more accidents, and sadly, more fatalities amongst this age group.

In addition to doubling your chances of an accident, texting while driving can triple your risk of other incidents on the road:

  • Driving over the curb
  • Departing from the roadway
  • Collisions with trees, poles, signs, and other items

Other drivers are not the only ones that you risk hurting on the road. The NHTSA reports that in 2018, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians and 77 bicyclists were all killed due to distracted driving.

All age groups are guilty of texting and driving, but data from the NHTSA shows that there are some groups that are far more active than others. Drivers between the ages of 20 and 29 far exceed the usage of older adults, with the 30-39 group ages 15-19 also showing greater cell phone use while driving. The risk of texting and driving begins to decrease after 39, showing that drivers ages 40 years and up are more responsible on the road and less likely to end up in a car crash due to texting behind the wheel. The CDC offers some additional insight into how frequently teenagers use their phones behind the wheel. Its 2019 report studies how frequently teens use their phones to email behind the wheel.

Laws vary by state, so it’s crucial to review the specific laws that affect your area. Review the state-by-state listing of current U.S. texting and driving laws.

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