California has banned having a cell phone in your hand for more than a decade. In New York, texting while driving has against the law for a decade and talking on a hand-held phone while driving became illegal 20 years ago. However, according to new data, despite an increase in laws about using cell phones behind the wheel, drivers continue to drive distracted by technology.

New data on continued distracted driving

In fact, according to a recent Bloomberg report, for every 100 drivers:

  • 20 drive distracted between 5-10% of the time
  • 15 drive distracted 10-15% of the time
  • 10 drive distracted 15-20% of the time

Cell phones continue to be the top reason for distracted driving.

Also, new data shows that drivers text and drive about 30% more during the holidays, specifically 33% more on Christmas and 26% more on New Year’s.

Deaths from distracted driving are down, but injuries up, to about 500,000 injury crashes in 2019, 100,000 more than in 2011.

Types of distracted driving

One reason cell phone use behind the wheel is particularly dangerous is that it covers all four types of distracted driving:

  • Visual: where drivers’ eyes are off the road
  • Auditory: where drivers are listening to something not related to driving or the road
  • Manual: where drivers take their hands of the wheel to manipulate something else
  • Cognitive: where drivers are thinking about something other than driving and the road

Ways to avoid distracted driving

If you know you often are tempted to use your phone (in your hand) while driving, here are some ways to avoid that:

  • Put the phone in your backseat or trunk while driving.
  • Let a passenger serve as the navigator or designated texter.
  • Pull over (not on the freeway) if you really need to respond to a text message.

The consequences of texting and driving, or even using your phone while driving, can be devastating. No one wants to look up from a text and see a pedestrian crossing less than 10 feet in front of them. While using your phone behind the wheel always is tempting, it’s still better and safer to leave the phone alone and arrive at your destination safely.