November 15, 2013

Texting while driving may be common, but it’s illegal in most states

41

Number of states that ban texting while driving.

It can be an irresistible temptation: You’re in the car and can’t remember where you’re supposed to meet your friends, so you grab your smartphone and send them a quick text. Or you’re bored on a long highway trip and decide to scroll through Facebook with one hand while keeping the other on the wheel.

However, most states flatly ban the practice, according to distraction.gov, the “official U.S. government website for distracted driving.” In all but four of those states, texting while driving is a primary offense, meaning you can get pulled over and ticketed simply for that alone; in Florida, Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio, you can get ticketed for texting only if you were pulled over for some other offense, such as speeding. (By comparison, only 12 states, along with Washington, D.C., ban all drivers from using handheld mobile phones.)

The number of people killed in distraction-related crashes fell slightly last year, to 3,328 from 3,360 in 2011, according to a report Thursday from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But the estimated number of people injured in distraction-related crashes rose 9%, to 421,000.

In a 2010 Pew Research Center survey, nearly half (47%) of adults who use text messaging (equivalent to 27% of all U.S. adults) said they had sent or received messages while driving. A 2009 survey found that 26% of 16- and 17-year-olds admitted to texting while behind the wheel.

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Texting

  1. Photo of Drew DeSilver

    is a Senior Writer at the Pew Research Center.

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6 Comments

  1. Masen8 months ago

    No you shouldn’t ban texting and driving because people will do it anyway, and the cops text and drive too.

    Reply
    1. bob4 months ago

      they also sit on laptops while driveing

      Reply
  2. mumtahinah9 months ago

    I agree with you they should ban texting and driving in all states and if they get caught they should loose points off drivers licenses at any point of the day so I really agree with the statement and they are alike

    Reply
  3. Rod Kimmel10 months ago

    There are both direct and indirect risks associated with distracted driving. Education is the key creating safe behavior. There are free 1-3 minute mini-lessons that teach safe alternatives to texting while driving at TextingSafely.com

    Reply
  4. Bryan Greenland10 months ago

    Just curious: Do we have any research for voice-composed texts? Likewise, does the legislation make a distinction between typed and voice-composed texts? (Both of these get at an underlying question: Can research and legislation keep up with the rate of technology growth in order to remain meaningful?)

    Reply
  5. Richard DeSilver10 months ago

    If people driving alone want to do this and drive into a tree, that’s great. However, it’s inexcusable when innocent people are killed or injured by this practice.

    Reply