Is Texting While Driving More Dangerous Than Drunk Driving?
Motorists engage in secondary behavior during more than half of their time spent driving – an action that is a factor in more than one million national car crashes and 16% of fatal accidents annually. And texting is the number one distracted driving activity by a long-shot. With technology at drivers’ fingertips, drivers are becoming more and more tempted to send and read quick text messages that they by-and-large assume to be harmless. The truth is, texting while driving takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds and increases the chances of a crash by 23 percent. To put that into perspective, if a vehicle is traveling at 55mph, the average driver doesn’t look at the road for about the length of an entire football field while sending a text.
Car and Driver Magazine performed an experiment to document just how dangerous texting and driving can be, in comparison with the widely known risky activity of drunk driving. During the experiment, cars were rigged with a red light to alert drivers when to brake. The magazine tested how long it would take to hit the brakes when sober, when legally impaired at a BAC level of .08, when reading an e-mail and when sending a text. Sober, focused drivers took an average of 0.54 seconds to brake. For legally drunk drivers four feet needed to be added. An additional 36 feet was necessary for reading an e-mail, and a whopping added 70 feet was needed for sending a text.
Another test conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory in London found that drivers who texted had slower response times, were more likely to drift in and out of lanes and even drove worse than drivers who were high on marijuana. The study found that reaction times for texting drivers were 35% worse than those of drivers with no distractions.
Ten states plus D.C. prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones, 32 states and D.C. forbid novice from using cell phones and 39 states plus D.C. prohibit all drivers from texting.