Texting While Driving: A Surprising Risk for Grown-Ups

In today’s world, it can be challenging to avoid the distractions of modern technology. However, for older drivers, one particular bad habit could pose a serious, lethal threat to their lives. This harmful habit is texting and driving, and research shows that it’s an issue that affects older drivers more drastically than their younger counterparts.

The Dangers of Texting and Driving for All Ages

According to research conducted at Wayne State University, texting and driving can cause many problems for drivers of all ages. Younger drivers are often more distracted by devices like radios and smartphones and are more prone to accidents. However, when it comes to texting and driving, older drivers face even more significant risks.

The study, conducted by researchers Randall Commissaris and Doreen Head, found that older drivers who text and drive are much more likely to have accidents and hit other cars than younger drivers. “Generally, people believe that younger drivers are more easily distracted and therefore would be more susceptible to the dangers of texting and driving,” says Commissaris. “However, our study demonstrated just the opposite. Although texting while driving had a negative impact on drivers of all ages, younger drivers were less distracted by texting, and older drivers’ performance was much worse because of their texting.”

The Findings of the Study

The researchers investigated the driving skills of those who frequently texted with one hand on smartphones and sent many texts throughout the day. Their findings showed that about half of texters overall allowed their cars to wander out of their lanes when they texted and drove. However, older drivers were particularly prone to this dangerous behavior.

For every single driver in the study between the ages of 45 and 59, their car drifted out of their lane when they were texting. In contrast, 80% of texting drivers between 35 and 44 allowed their cars to weave over the lines of their lanes, and about 40% of drivers aged 25 and 34 experienced the same problem. And only about 25% of drivers between 18 and 24 allowed their cars to weave when texting.

The Danger Lies in Experience

Many believe that more experienced drivers can manage distractions better than inexperienced ones. Therefore, it would seem that they should be able to text and drive more safely. However, the study found just the opposite. “There is a perception that more-experienced drivers can text and drive more safely because they can manage distractions better than less-experienced drivers,” says Head. “Not only are adults sending the wrong message because they are telling young people to do as they say, not as they do, but they are also putting themselves and others in harm’s way.”

Best Practices for All Drivers

Texting and driving is a dangerous behavior no matter your age. There are steps all drivers can take to reduce distractions and keep themselves and others on the road safe.

  • Put your phone on silent or in a hard-to-reach location while driving. Out of sight, out of mind.

  • Use hands-free settings, like speakerphone or Bluetooth, if you must make a call while driving.

  • Pull over to a safe location if you need to send a text, check your phone, or engage in any other distracting behavior.

  • Encourage friends and family members not to text you while they know you’re driving.

  • Set a good example for young drivers by avoiding distractions and demonstrating focused driving habits.


Despite advancements in technology, texting and driving remain a dangerous distraction for drivers of all ages. But for older drivers, this bad habit could be lethal. By practicing safe driving habits and reducing distractions, we can all contribute to making the roads a safer place.