3 Ways to Stop Texting Behind the Wheel


NASCAR marks rookie drivers’ front bumpers with a wide yellow strip. It’s not a bad idea to tag inexperienced drivers for the rest of us to see. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed Teen drivers crash four times more often than adults. In fact, car crashes account for the most deaths among teens.

The website distraction.gov focuses on distracted driving. It says teens aren’t the only ones at risk.

The site reports 3,154 U.S. deaths in 2013 attributed to distracted driving, although many states have implemented regulations against all mobile-phone use behind the wheel. Parents who keep tabs on their kids’ mobile phone use while driving often text behind the wheel, too. And they’re not very good at it.

A Wayne State University study examined age and ability to stay in a driving lane while texting. Participants were proficient at one-handed texting. Drivers were 50% more likely at any age to cross into another lane while they texted.

Age % who cross lanes
18-24 25%
25-34 40%
35-44 80%
45-59 100%

How can drivers improve their odds of not becoming a statistic?

  1. Ban your own cell usage
  2. Even if your state or city hasn’t outlawed mobile phone use, you can impose your own restriction. Enable the location finder on your mobile phone, and store it in a place it’s out of reach. Some carriers offer a drive mode feature. It defaults to send a customized reply to texts when the car is in motion.

    Fact: The National Safety Council, a non-profit public service organization, discovered a driver’s ability to process images drops by as much as a third when the driver uses a mobile phone.

    What’s illegal in your state?

  3. Install a control app
  4. Products such as Cellcontrol prevent common distracting activity during drive time. It blocks texting, reading or posting to social media. It also bars selfie-taking, games and use of SnapChat. It’s specific enough to impose restrictions on a driver, but not a passenger.

    Fact: Distraction.gov reports 3,154 people died in 2013 in car crashes that involved distracted drivers. Fatalities dropped 6.7% from 2012, but more people were injured in such crashes than the year before.

  5. Name a designated texter
  6. Pick someone in the car to handle text duty for the driver. Parents can even assign the job to a child, who can take dictation and return texts. “I have Siri type my texts,” says Robin R., a Massachusetts mom of three. The Central Florida Expressway Authority began a campaign to stigmatize texting and driving.

    It hosts a pledge on its website and uses the hashtag #WhoseYourDT. NBA player Tobias Harris advocates for it.

    Fact: At 55 mph, a car can cover the same distance as a football field in 5 seconds of distracted driving.


About Author


Eli studied English and Religious Studies at UNC Charlotte. A former sportswriter, he writes a blog about coaching his daughters in soccer and once was mistaken for racecar driver Juan Pablo Montoya. He writes on the Internet and other technology. He’s a native of Greeley, Colo., an avid NPR listener and average disc golfer.

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