60+ Texting and Driving Statistics 2020

In recent years, people all across the country have shifted their attention to the dangers of texting and driving.

This shift in public discourse may not be surprising. The latest data on the dangers of distracted driving show that in 2017 a staggering 401 fatal crashes were reported to have involved distraction by cell phone use.

What’s more, crashes involving cell-phone related activity accounted for 14% of all distraction-related fatal crashes across the country in that year, resulting in 434 deaths.

Over 80% of drivers polled in 2016 believed that distracted driving was a much larger problem than in 2013 and that the problem is only increasing. 

These 60+ texting and driving statistics will help you understand the current landscape, and what you can do to make the road a safer place.

In this article

    Statistics on Texting and Driving By Generation

    Of all the drivers involved in fatal crashes caused by cell phone distraction, drivers under 30 years old account for those most likely to be using a cell phone at the time of the incident. 

    In a 2016 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, data indicated that compared to all drivers, those between ages 19 to 24 were:

    • More likely to read or craft text messages while driving 
    • More like to find texting while driving acceptable 
    • Less likely to support legislation designed to curb driving distractions 

    The same study also indicated that 88% of young millennials engaged in at least one risky behavior (texting while driving, red-light running, and speeding) while driving in the last 30 days, which earn millennials the top spot as the worst behaved drivers in the United States. 

    The most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also indicates similar trends. 37% of fatal crashes caused by distracted drivers on their cell phones involve drivers that were 20 to 29 years old. It is reported that for all fatal crashes involving distracted drivers using cell phones:

    Distracted Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes

    Age% of Drivers
    15–1916%
    20–2937%
    30–3921%
    40–4912%
    50–598%
    60–695%
    70–791%

    As you can see, young adults are some of the worst offenders when it comes to distracted driving:

    • 16% of drivers 21 to 24 years old send text messages or emails while driving at least some of the time
    • 17% of drivers 25 to 34 years old send text messages or emails while driving at least some of the time 
    • 19% of drivers 16 to 20 years old read text messages or emails while driving at least some of the time
    • 47% of drivers 21 to 34 years old read text messages or emails while driving at least some of the time

    Statistics on Teens Texting and Driving

    Teen drivers are the fourth most prevalent age group to use cell phones while driving. 

    In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that:

    • 9% of all teen motor vehicle crash deaths involve distracted driving 
    • 9% of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes are teens 15 to 19 years old
    • 8% of teen drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the incidents
    • 52% of people killed in teen distraction-related crashes are teens 15 to 19 years old

    Texting and Driving Statistics by Gender

    Looking at texting and driving through a gendered lens unearths some interesting findings on the differences between male and female distracted driving habits. In 2015, data indicated the following:

    Female Distracted Driving Habits

    • 50% of female drivers ages 45 to 54 are the most likely to say that they would use an app designed to block phone calls and text messaging while driving 
    • 79% of females are very likely to intervene when  the driver of their vehicle is sending text messages or emails while driving 
    • 7% of female drivers send text messages or emails while driving at least some of the time 
    • 81% of female drivers never send text messages or emails while driving 
    • 9% of female drivers read text messages or emails while driving at least some of the time 
    • 76% of female drivers never read text messages or emails while driving
    • 87% of female drivers never use smartphone apps while driving
    • 79% of females are very likely to intervene when the driver of their vehicle is sending text messages while driving

    Male Distracted Driving Habits

    • 71% of males are very likely to intervene if the driver of their vehicle is sending text messages or emails while driving 
    • 9 % of male drivers send text messages or emails while driving at least some of the time 
    • 79% of male drivers never send text messages or emails while driving 
    • 13% of male drivers read text messages or emails while driving at least some of the time
    • 73% of male drivers never read text messages or emails while driving
    • 80% of male drivers never use smartphone apps while driving

    It turns out that women are more likely to: intervene if their driver is texting while driving; never send text messages while driving; and never read text messages while driving when compared to their male counterparts.

    Reasons That People Text and Drive

    There are a number of reasons that prompt people to engage in distracted driving on the road. Work-related messages are more likely to prompt drivers to text and drive, over personal or social messages. These are the most popular motivators:

    • The message is important (43%) 
    • The message is work-related (9%) 
    • The message is personal or social (8%) 
    • The person the driver is messaging is important (8%)
    • The driver needs to report a traffic crash or emergency (6%)
    • The message makes or responds to a quick or short message or call (4%) 
    • The driver needs directions or other information (4%)

    When it comes to how people rate their driving abilities, reports indicate that drivers are overconfident in their ability to text and drive, though it makes them nervous when others do:

    • 31% of drivers report no difference in their driving when they text 
    • 34% of drivers report being distracted or not as aware of things when texting and driving 
    • 12% of drivers report they drive slower while texting and driving 
    • 86% of people indicate that they would feel very unsafe if their driver was sending text messages or emails while driving
    • 81% also report that they would feel very unsafe if their drivers were reading texts or emails while driving 
    • 47% of people report that they would feel safe if their drivers used a hands-free device to talk on a cell phone while driving

    Situations That Prevent Drivers From Texting and Driving

    Data indicates that drivers are less likely to text and drive if: 

    Texting and Driving Laws

    Today, 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands all have a ban on texting when driving. However, distracted driving laws and enforcement vary from state to state. 

    Take a look at the table below to get a detailed breakdown of distracted driving laws across the United States.

    Primary Versus Secondary Enforcement

    As you’ll see in the table below, some bans are subject to primary enforcement, while others are subject to secondary enforcement. 

    Primary enforcement means that a police officer is allowed to stop and ticket a driver when the officer observes a violation of the law (like texting and driving). 

    Secondary enforcement means that the officer cannot stop and ticket a driver unless they engage in that offense and an additional violation (like texting and driving while also speeding).

    StateAll cell phone banTexting banEnforcement
    AlabamaDrivers age 16 and 17 who have an intermediate license for less than 6 months.All driversPrimary
    AlaskaNoAll driversPrimary
    ArizonaSchool bus drivers; Learner’s permit and provisional license holders during the first six months after licensing.All driversPrimary: cell phone use by school bus drivers

     

    Secondary: cell phone use by young drivers

    ArkansasSchool bus drivers, drivers younger than 18All driversPrimary: for texting by drivers and cell phone use by school bus drivers

     

    Secondary: for cell phone use by young drivers, drivers in school and work zones

    CaliforniaAll driversAll driversPrimary: handheld and texting by all drivers

     

    Secondary: all cell phone use by young drivers

    ColoradoNoAll driversPrimary
    ConnecticutAll driversAll driversPrimary
    DelawareAll driversAll driversPrimary
    District of ColumbiaAll driversAll driversPrimary
    FloridaNoAll driversPrimary
    GeorgiaAll driversAll driversPrimary
    HawaiiAll driversAll driversPrimary
    IdahoNoAll driversPrimary
    IllinoisAll driversAll driversPrimary
    IndianaNoAll driversPrimary
    IowaNoAll driversPrimary
    KansasNoAll driversPrimary
    KentuckyNoAll driversPrimary
    LouisianaNoAll driversPrimary
    MaineAll drivers(effective 9/19/2019)All driversPrimary
    MarylandAll drivers, school bus driversAll driversPrimary
    MassachusettsLocal optionAll driversPrimary
    MichiganLocal optionAll driversPrimary
    MinnesotaYes(effective 8/1/2019)All driversPrimary
    MississippiNoAll driversPrimary
    MissouriNoAll driversPrimary
    MontanaNoNoNot applicable
    NebraskaNoAll driversSecondary
    New HampshireAll driversAll driversPrimary
    New JerseyAll driversAll driversPrimary
    New MexicoLocal optionAll driversPrimary
    New YorkAll driversAll driversPrimary
    North CarolinaNoAll driversPrimary
    North DakotaNoAll driversPrimary
    OhioLocal optionAll driversPrimary: for drivers younger than 18

     

    Secondary: for texting by all drivers

    OklahomaLearner’s permit and intermediate license holders, school bus drivers and public transit driversAll driversPrimary
    OregonAll driversAll driversPrimary
    PennsylvaniaLocal optionAll driversPrimary
    Puerto RicoAll driversAll driversPrimary
    Rhode IslandAll driversAll driversPrimary
    South CarolinaNoAll driversPrimary
    South DakotaNoAll driversSecondary
    TennesseeYesAll driversPrimary
    TexasDrivers in school crossing zonesAll drivers (effective 9/01/2017)Primary
    UtahSpeaking on a cell phone, without a hands-free device, is an offense only if a driver is also committing a moving violation other than speedingAll driversPrimary: for texting

     

    Secondary: for talking on a hand-held phone

    U.S. Virgin IslandsAll driversAll driversPrimary
    VermontAll driversAll driversPrimary
    VirginiaNoAll driversPrimary: for texting by all drivers

     

    Secondary: for drivers younger than 18

    WashingtonAll driversAll driversPrimary
    West VirginiaAll driversAll driversPrimary
    WisconsinNoAll driversPrimary
    WyomingNoAll driversPrimary

    While the majority of states across the country have enacted regulations aimed at distracted driving, the overall awareness of these laws varies across drivers:

    • 57% of drivers believe their state has, or likely has, a law banning talking on a cell phone while driving 
    • 76% of drivers believe that their States has, or likely has, a law banning texting or emailing on a phone while driving 
    • In States that ban sending or reading text messages and emails while driving, 36% of drivers were unaware of the law 
    • In States without laws banning the sending and receiving of text messages, 25% of drivers were aware that their States did not have such a law

    The Dangers of Distracted Driving

    The effects of distracted driving, especially texting and driving, are severe and irreversible. 

    A 2018 study published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that: 

    • Texting doubles your chances of getting in any kind of accident – which can raise your insurance rates 
    • Texting triples your chances of being involved in a crash where the vehicle actually departs the road (drives off the roadway, crashes into a tree, hits a sign, etc.) 
    • Texting increases your odds of rear-ending another vehicle by a multiple of 7

    Moreover, in 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that:

    • 3,157 crashes happened as a result of distracted driving 
    • Of all 34,439 crashes that year, 9% of the total crashes involved distracted driving 
    • 444 distraction-affected crashes involved a cell phone in use 
    • 3,450 fatalities occurred as a result of distraction-affected crashes
    • 486 fatalities resulted from distraction-affected crashes with a cell phone in use 
    • 3,210 drivers were involved in distraction-affected crashes 
    • 457 drivers were involved in a distraction-affected crash with a cell phone in use

    Texting and driving is a huge issue, but texting isn’t the only form of distraction on the road. Distracted driving refers to any activity that sidetracks your attention from driving. 

    Activities that lead to distracted driving come in a multitude of forms and include: 

    • Talking on your phone
    • Texting
    • Eating
    • Drinking
    • Talking to someone in your vehicle
    • Tinkering with an entertainment or navigation system

    Distracted driving is separated into three categories. Visual, when you take your eyes off the road. Manual, when you take your hands off the wheel. Cognitive, when you take your mind off of driving.

    Every day, approximately 9 people are killed and over 1,000 injured due to distracted driving.

    Distracted driving is such a huge issue that there are companies dedicated to monitoring your phone usage while driving. Companies like Zendrive analyze driving behavior and use a combination of data capture and pattern analysis to determine if a driver is engaging in safe or risky behaviors at a given time or place. 

    Zendrive even allows insurance companies the option to integrate Zendrive’s monitoring services into their mobile app. If a user has granted permission and an insurance company has integrated a service like Zendrive into their mobile app, this data could impact the user’s auto insurance rates. 

    The best way to avoid the pitfalls of texting and driving is simple: avoid it completely. 

    Tips for Preventing Texting and Driving

    If you’re looking to break your dangerous habit of texting and driving, consider these practical tips:

    1. Keep your phone out of reach or out of sight while driving. 
    2. Turn your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode or turn your phone’s notification volume to silent and keep the vibrate function off while in the car. 
    3. Use an app to block incoming calls or texts while driving. 
    4. Pullover to a safe location and stop your vehicle entirely to send or read a text message.
    5. Securely mount your phone to your dashboard, if you need your phone for navigational purposes, and keep your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode while driving to prevent notifications from distracting your attention.
    6. Make a social commitment and tell your friends that you’re not going to text and drive. 
    7. Get involved! Help stop distracted driving by encouraging your peers, colleagues, or loved ones to curb their dangerous driving habits, or by spreading the word about the potential dangers of distracted driving.

    The dangers of texting and driving should not be taken lightly. Every time a driver switches their focus from driving safely on the road to their cell phone, they increase their likelihood of being involved in (or the cause of) a fatal car crash. 

    Arm yourself with the tips above to curb your own texting and driving habits and remember the information you learned today the next time you reach for your phone or hear that fateful message ping the next time you’re driving. 

    It’s also never a bad idea to equip yourself with a car insurance policy. At The Simple Dollar, we’ve assessed pretty much every car insurance company under the sun so you can determine which company has the best auto insurance policy for your needs. Discover our helpful rundown of the best car insurance companies of 2019 to ensure you’re prepared for whatever comes your way on the road. If you’re looking for discounts, we’ve also got you covered for the cheapest car insurance companies.

    Drew Page

    Contributing Writer

    Drew is a writer from San Diego, California. He is a student of history and loves to learn how things work at their fundamental level. Studying a wide variety of subjects on personal finance, from both a macro and micro perspective, allows him to simplify the subject matter and paint a higher resolution picture.

    He loves learning, writing and playing music. When not surfing the web, you can find him actually surfing, in the kitchen or reading a physics book (of which he understands close to nothing).