Dying For a Text Message

Safely Speaking

Your next meeting is 40 minutes away. You climb into your car, buckle up, plug your phone into the phone charger, and go.

Within minutes, you hear your text alert. Without even thinking, you grab your phone and respond. Shortly after, your phone rings. You answer. It’s a customer. You have a nice chat about family and then start talking business. You’re so focused on the conversation that it’s minutes before you realize you’ve driven past your exit. You turn around, mentally calculating that now you will probably be ten minutes late to your meeting.

However, this extra drive time now gives you a chance to check the four new e-mails that arrived while you were talking. You look down, scan those messages, and decide to peek at the latest quotes in your stock portfolio while you’re at it. You look up just in time to see that traffic has slowed because of a wrecker assisting a driver on the side of the road. You stop hard, sending your meeting materials flying off the front seat. That was close! Despite the close call, you make it to your meeting only a few minutes late. You are lucky.

There Are No “Do-Overs” in Vehicle Crashes
Hopefully, this anecdote doesn’t describe you. But, if it does, you have been fortunate to not have had a crash. The odds are clearly against you:

  • Driving accidents are the leading cause of on-the-job deaths in America.1
  • Distracted driving is becoming one of largest single causes of vehicle crashes—it accounts for close to 427,000 accidents annually.2
  • Studies show that distracted driving is more likely to lead to a crash than driving while intoxicated, and texting is a major contributor to distracted driving.3
  • More than six billion text messages are sent each day4, and a driver is more than 23 times more likely to crash while texting. While there are no clear studies that tell us how many texts are sent while driving, it’s safe to say it’s too many.

Using a mobile device behind the wheel can lead to criminal penalties. If you or your employee driver is in an accident, phone records will be checked. You could be held criminally liable. And that’s certainly not good for your business.

Our story ends well, because it’s imaginary. But, let’s say it’s real-life and you are the distracted driver. And let’s say you failed to react in time to the traffic slow-down and caused a crash that injured or killed someone—maybe you—all because your phone, not driving, was the priority. There may be no skid marks, but your phone holds the truth. You can’t bring back that moment.

What truly is important to you?
Look at your phone right now. Whose picture is on it? Your spouse? Your family? Whoever is looking back at you from that screen is truly important to you. Aren’t they worth turning off your phone when you drive so you can concentrate on making it home safely today—for everyone’s sake?

1,3 National Safety Council®, 2012
2 NHTSA’s Traffic Safety Facts Research Note, Distracted Driving 2013, Publication DOT HS 812 132; April 2015; http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812132.pdf
4 “U.S. Consumers Send Six Billion Text Messages a Day.” CTIA®, 2013


​Laramie Sandquist, Federated Mutual Insurance Company

This article is for general information and risk prevention only and should not be considered legal or other expert advice. The recommendations presented may help reduce the risk of loss but are not guaranteed to do so. The information herein may be subject to regulations and restrictions in your state. Qualified counsel should be sought with questions specific to your circumstances. © 2016 Federated Mutual Insurance Company.