Who Is Most Likely To Text And Drive? You May Be Surprised

by Jim on August 23, 2022

Texting and driving is a widespread habit found among most drivers. If you were to answer the question of who texts the most while driving, you’re most likely to suggest that young drivers do. Let’s find out if you’re right.

A recent national survey shows that 38% of teens admit to texting while driving, while 56% of those 18 and older admit to texting sometimes or frequently. This doesn’t yet give a clear picture of who uses their cell phone the most while driving but further down this article, you will find out all you need to know.

The Psychology of Texting While Driving

Have you ever stopped to think, why do people text and drive even when they know they shouldn’t? Texting and driving is a form of distracted driving that is considered the leading cause of fatal car accidents. Although most drivers are aware that it is not safe to text and drive simultaneously, they still indulge. The psychology of distracted driving explains why.

Why Do People Text And Drive?

There’s no definite answer to this question. However, with the help of scientific research, psychologists have been able to explain why people text and drive or engage in activities that cause distracted driving, even when they know they shouldn’t.

1. Texting and dopamine

Dr. Paul Atchley, a professor of Psychology, explains that people text and drive despite knowing the potential dangers attached because of the temporary high texting on social media gives.

Cell phone use among drivers increased from 52% to 80% between 2011 and 2014, and with the advent of different social media platforms, 80% of the US population has become addicted to their phones.

Social interaction on social media stimulates the release of dopamine. As a result, people become accustomed to constantly checking their phones, even when behind the wheel for that little dopamine hit.

Dopamine is a feel-good neurotransmitter hormone associated with pleasurable activities like sex, taking drugs, gambling, texting, and posting on social media. Driving could be a tedious and monotonous daily, especially for school bus drivers. To get a pleasurable, feel-good feeling, drivers go ahead to text and post on social media despite the dangers.

2. An attempt to multi-task

Other drivers not attached to their cell phones may be tempted to multi-task while driving. They may decide to make a long overdue call, respond to incoming messages or do some other tasks on their cell phones.

The truth is that multi-tasking is an ineffective way of getting things done. Our brain deceives us to believe that we’re saving time and being productive by doing multiple things simultaneously. However, the reality is that the brain cannot devote 100 percent of its attention to more than one task at a time, so efficiency and productivity are significantly reduced.

Some drivers use hands-free devices to reduce the danger of cell phone use while driving. State laws allow hands-free cell phone use because it seems less dangerous. Although hands-free devices help drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road, they do not curb cognitive distractions.

Cognitive distractions (discussed further below) are as dangerous as other forms of distractions. The brain’s ability to process the movement of visual images decreases by 37% when having a conversation on cell phone.

It has been observed that having a conversation with someone else in the car does not have the same effect. This is mainly because the other person helps to alert the distracted driver in case of any potential danger he may miss.

3. Drivers overestimate their driving capabilities

Organizations like the NHTSA help spread awareness about distracted driving and the dangers involved for drivers and other commuters. It’s not surprising, however, that despite the efforts of these organizations and the driving statistics, some drivers refuse to see the dangers because they think they’re better at it than everyone else.

Many drivers assume that a distracted driver who falls victim to driving accidents due to texting and driving or other similar behaviors is either in the category of novice drivers or made some mistakes they are smart enough to avoid.

Our ego or pride deceives us to believe that we’re superheroes who are better than everyone else at texting and driving. We think we are smart and tactical enough to engage in dangerous activities like texting while driving. The feeling of accomplishment also comes with safely engaging in dangerous activities.

h3(#it-takes-only-one-second.). 4. It takes only one second.

Drivers also assume that taking their attention off driving for "only one second" cannot be that dangerous. The truth is, it can be. You can miss out on significant information in just one second.

Reading or responding to text messages while driving takes the driver’s eyes from the road for at least five seconds. "At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed." Says NHTSA. Teen texters are usually more reckless and fond of this behavior.

Some Facts and Driving Statistics

The number of driving deaths recorded daily due to cell phone use is alarming. According to the National Safety Council driving statistics, about 1.6 million car accidents are recorded each year due to cell phone use when driving. One of every four motor vehicle crashes is caused by texting and driving.

Most drivers are unaware of how many deaths are recorded each day because of cell phone use when driving, which is why they don’t understand how dangerous texting and driving can be. Many driving statistics say texting while driving is six times more likely to cause a car crash than drunk driving.

An AAA Foundation poll records that 94 percent of teen drivers admit to the dangers of texting and driving, but only 35% admit to texting and driving.

Texting while driving is quite common among drivers of all age groups. A recent report shows that about 16.2% of drivers in 2021 texted while driving. The chances of an accident occurring once a driver’s eyes are taken off the road for a second increase by 400%.

Car crashes caused by sending a text message, answering an incoming call or text message when driving contributes to societal damage--loss of lives, property, and public infrastructure. 15 percent of the overall societal damage in the United States is caused by motor vehicle crashes due to texting while driving.

Who Is Most Likely To Text While Driving?

Texting and driving is a common distracted driving behavior among people of different ages, gender, occupation, and location. Although people across different demographics use their mobile phones while driving, the habit of using cell phones behind the wheel is more common among certain people and occurs differently from group to group.

It’s pretty challenging to answer this question for each demographic because the results of previous research are dynamic (with valid explanations), and further research may be needed.

h3(#a.-texting-and-driving-among-different-age-groups). A. Texting And Driving Among Different Age Groups

According to a survey carried out by pew research center in 2010, teen drivers and adult drivers in the 18 - 33 age-group text and drive more than any other age group.

Although texting and driving is expected to be more common among teen drivers because of their biological inclination to be easily distracted, a survey by the AAA Foundation proves otherwise.

The AAA Foundation poll opines that adult drivers in the 25 - 39 age group are more likely to text while driving than most drivers of a younger age. The data gathered from the survey showed that 52% of young adults text while driving as opposed to 38% of teenagers and high school students.

A valid explanation of this data is that even though most teenagers are easily distracted and very prone to texting and driving, young adults text more behind the wheel because of a false sense of security that they are capable of texting and driving safely.

This false sense of security is developed because they see themselves as more experienced in driving because they have been driving for longer. Most adults admit to doing other tasks like making a quick phone call to a client or boss while driving.

h3(#b.-texting-and-driving-between-men-and-women). B. Texting And Driving Between Men And Women

Generally, men text while driving more than women. According to the NHTSA, 19% of men and 17% of women text while driving. Although both genders recognize the dangers of distracted driving, men often text and drive because they consider themselves skilled drivers.

Female drivers are more likely to be distracted by other things (a conversation with a passenger in the vehicle, trying to take care of the kids while driving, eating while driving, trying to pick up something, etc.) than cell phone use.

h3(#c.-texting-and-driving-by-occupation). C. Texting And Driving By Occupation

People whose daily jobs require being behind the wheel are more likely to text while driving than people of any other occupation. Examples include; school bus drivers, delivery drivers, driving instructors, taxi drivers, etc.

h3(#d.-texting-and-driving-by-state). D. Texting And Driving by State

Of all fifty states in the US, the top five states with the highest distracted driving rates are; New Mexico, Louisiana, Kansas, Kentucky, and Hawaii. Drivers in Mississippi, Rhode Island, the District of Columbia, Nevada, and Connecticut are less likely to be caught texting and driving.

Driving laws are more stringent in states like New Mexico, where distracted driving is high. Cellphone use while driving is prohibited except if you use a hands-free device.

In 2014, texting and driving (including sending emails, instant messages, sending a text, an image or emoji, etc.) was prohibited except for emergency calls which you must pull over to make.

In New Mexico, cellphone use is a primary traffic violation. A primary traffic violation is serious enough for the police to pull you over without any other traffic violation. In some states like Nebraska, texting and driving is a secondary offense, and you’ll only be pulled over if there is a first offense.

As of 2021, cell phone use while driving attracts a fine of $25 as a first offense. For every new offense, the fine is increased to $50.

Texting And Driving And Relationships

People in relationships are more likely to text and drive than single and married people.

Top 4 Types of Distraction When Driving

According to the NHTSA, "Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or sending a text message on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving."

Amongst all other factors that cause fatal car crashes on roads (bad roads, poor vehicle condition, etc.), distracted driving is a significant cause of fatal car crashes. Driving statistics show that about 25% of fatal car crashes in the US are caused by distracted driving.

Visual Distraction

Visual distractions occur when the driver’s attention is diverted from the main task of driving due to what they see. Many distracted driving accidents among teen drivers and young adults are traced to texting while driving.

Reading an incoming text on your mobile phone takes about five seconds. Taking your eyes off the road for only one second is enough to cause a car crash; imagine what five seconds can do.

An example of visual distraction is sending text messages behind the wheel. Using cell phones when driving requires the use of hands and eyes. Your eyes are not only distracted from the road, but your hands also leave the steering wheel.

Other reasons for visual distractions aside from cell phone use include checking out an attention-catching billboard, low visibility as a result of fogginess or bad weather, sunlight glare, GPS navigation systems,

Cognitive Distraction

Cognitive distractions deal with the mental focus of the driver. As already stated, the brain can not focus on two things simultaneously. It only switches its focus from one thing to the other. This is why you cannot answer a phone conversation and read a book simultaneously.

When the mind drifts away from the main task of driving, the driver’s attention is divided, and the capacity of his brain to process visual images and other things in his environment reduces by 9%.

Although many people consider using a hands-free device safer, that is not true. Hands-free devices are convenient but not safe because they can be a source of cognitive distractions when driving.

Auditory Distraction

Distractions that happen as a result of what the driver hears are termed auditory distractions. Auditory distractions can be caused by conversations, the radio or stereo of the vehicle, etc.

Auditory distractions can often lead to visual, cognitive, and manual distractions. When up to three distractions lead to fatal crashes, it is called a triple threat distraction.

Manual Distractions

Manual distraction occurs when a driver takes his hands off the steering wheel of the motor vehicle when driving. You’re falling into manual distraction when you reach for your cell phone, the stereo, or take a scoop of ice cream.

Hands-free driving can lead to loss of control of the wheel, which may be difficult to regain in most cases.

Visual, manual, auditory, and cognitive distractions slow drivers’ reaction time to unexpected obstacles, like a merging car or an animal crossing the road. Distractions make drivers lose focus so much that they don’t slow down even when a crash is imminent and lose sight or awareness of traffic signals.

The Dangers of Texting While Driving

Texting and driving is a relatively common distracted driving behavior. About 80% of the US population uses a cell phone behind the wheel daily.

According to www.cdc.gov, "Nine people in the United States are killed every day in crashes that are reported to involve distracted drivers." Texting and driving is six times more dangerous than drunk driving. Of all the forms and examples of distracted driving, texting and driving is the most common cause of fatal crashes.

Car crashes are not the only dangerous consequences of texting while driving. Amongst the numerous dangers, we have highlighted a few points below.

1. Car Accident

Distracted driving, especially texting while driving, is the leading cause of fatal car crashes on roads. More than 46,000 driving deaths are recorded each year. Motor vehicle crashes are among the top two causes of injury throughout a person’s lifetime.

Texting while driving distracts a driver in three ways; eyes are taken off the road and fixed on the cell phone, hands are taken off the steering, and the brain is distracted from focusing on the task of driving. As a result, the driver is slow to use the break when he is expected to.

This can lead to a loss of lives and properties. One text is not worth your life.

2. Decreased Performance Productivity

Because the brain cannot successfully focus on two different tasks simultaneously, drivers’ performance while driving is reduced. Even if he escapes a car accident, distracted driving can confuse the road, bashing your vehicle or someone else’s car which will incur unplanned expenses except if the driver has gotten car insurance.

Aside from decreased performance while driving, the driver will also not be effective at the other task, such as texting while driving. He may send the text to the wrong person, send the wrong emoji or omit important information.

3. Fatigue

Fatigue sets in (especially for long-distance drivers) due to continual trying to focus on two different tasks at a time. More energy is expended while performance is reduced. Fatigue while driving is equally dangerous and should be avoided as much as possible.

4. High Insurance Premiums

Car insurance premiums are based on the calculated risks for each individual based on a set of rate factors (where you live, the kind of car you drive, your credit score - in most states, driving history and claims record) that determine how much you pay for your coverage in a year.

Car insurance premiums can be affected by your driving habits. Poor habits like texting while driving can lead to high insurance premiums. Car insurance can get particularly pricey when you have a texting and driving offense on your record.

5. Criminal Penalties

In most state driving laws, texting and driving attracts criminal penalties. Most states have adopted the use of financial penalties as an effective penalty for texting behind the wheel. Penalties range from $20 to $500, depending on the state, but in some states like Alaska, fines can be as high as $1,000.

6. Innocent Lives are Endangered

Fatal car crashes could endanger the lives of innocent pedestrians or passengers and make them suffer permanent, incurable, and life-changing injuries. This is why extra care is expected from school bus drivers, and young drivers who work for transportation companies because they are responsible for the passengers’ lives to an extent.

How Can I Prevent Distractions and Stay Focused When Driving?

Most people in this time and age are becoming increasingly distracted, activity-driven, and unable to focus on a task for too long. We must all learn to train ourselves (our bodies and minds) to just be once in a while so that we can focus and stay attentive for a significant period.

Below are ten helpful suggestions to prevent distractions and stay focused on the road.

  1. Develop a pre-driving routine. Set/align your mirrors, prepare the map, fasten your seatbelts and prepare your playlist before you get started to avoid reaching for the stereo now and then.
  2. Keep your phone out of reach. You can place it in your bag or purse in the car’s back seat. That way, it’s easier to control the temptation of texting or answering a phone call.
  3. Practice mindfulness when driving. Cognitive distractions are more difficult to stop than any other kind of distraction. One way to reduce cognitive distractions is practicing mindfulness until it becomes a habit.
  4. Avoid eating or drinking. If you must eat or drink, it’s safer to pull over before you do.
  5. In the case of emergency calls, pull over to make the call for the safety of others as well as yours.
  6. If you’re traveling with kids, ensure their seatbelts are fastened and educate them on the importance of not distracting you on the road. Also, ensure that everything they’ll need for the journey is kept within their reach.
  7. Limit pet movements in the car. To prevent your pets from being a source of distraction, secure them in harnesses or crates.

Tips For Safe Driving

Below are other essential tips for safe driving.

  1. Ensure that your vehicle is in good condition
  2. Avoid over-speeding
  3. Obey traffic rules. They’re there to ensure safety on roads
  4. Avoid distractions
  5. Fasten your seatbelts
  6. Do not drive when drunk
  7. Pullover during bad weather
  8. Do not take risks on the road
  9. Maintain extra space between yourself and the vehicle ahead
  10. Do not drive when you’re tired or sleepy
  11. Stop texting when driving
  12. Make frequent stops (at least every 90 minutes) to stretch and regain balance when on a long-distance journey.
100% Money Back Guarantee If You Fail
If you don't pass your written test we will REFUND you 100% of your purchase with us.

What Are You Studying For?