It is illegal to text while driving in Washington D.C. and 46 states, but people throughout the country continue to do it and other dangerous driving behaviors regularly.
According to a recent survey by AT&T, 61 percent of people admitted to texting and driving, a third admitted to checking email while driving, 17 percent admitted to snapping “selfies” while driving, and 10 percent admitted to video chatting while driving. Additionally, 30 percent of drivers admitted using social media, like Twitter, while driving.
Safety officials have been warning for years that distracted driving is just as dangerous — and in some cases more dangerous — than drunk driving. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drivers are 23 times more likely to get into an accident while texting, and about three times more likely to do so while dialing a phone number.
Knowing how dangerous distracted driving is, it is no wonder that it was responsible for more than 3,100 highway fatalities in 2013 alone and an ever greater number of injuries, according to the NHTSA.
So if people know that texting while driving is illegal, and they know how dangerous distracted driving is, why do they continue to do it?
At least one expert believes that addiction is behind the problem. The founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction at the University of Connecticut said people get a “high” from using their smartphones much like they do playing a slot machine.
Addiction or not, there is no excuse for putting the lives of others in danger on the road. Distracted drivers who cause accidents not only face criminal charges, they can also face liability in personal injury claims. Hopefully, Americans will receive the message sooner rather than later that distracted driving simply isn’t worth it.