Many states in the U.S. have passed laws that ban the use of cell phones while driving. The reason is the number of deaths attributed to this seemingly harmless activity: 2,600 deaths nationwide every year, by some estimates. In fact, those numbers may actually be too low, due to the continued rise in cell phone use behind the wheel. If you think that talking and texting while driving isn’t a big deal, consider this: One researcher compared the reaction time of a 20-year-old driver talking on a cell phone to that of a 70-year-old driver. What’s more, working a cell phone behind the wheel can delay reaction times by as much as 20 percent.
It isn’t just cell phones that cause distractions, however. Eating, applying makeup, fiddling with electronic devices or interacting with passengers also diverts a driver’s attention in potentially deadly ways.