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📵 Distracted Driving | February 7, 2016

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Is Texting While Driving More Dangerous Than Drunk Driving?

Is Texting While Driving More Dangerous Than Drunk Driving?
Kiernan Hopkins

The answer is yes. By a long-shot. Driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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.


  1. On the heels of my child’s accident I designed and am in the process of developing an app that will give parents the control over their child’s texting – this can end texting and driving. This app can also be used for Employers and employees. I believe this will save many lives. Please go on my kickstarter page and read more. Please make a donation no matter how small. Thank you.

    • Joe Schmoe

      Pay attention to the damn road! Get control over your narcissistic ego and turn off the phone! Why must you develop a software for EVERY PROBLEM?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! If you’re not looking at traffic, you shall wander! NO SHIT THIS WILL HAPPEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. drunk driving is more dangerous by far. many people can die because they are not all there.

    • i did it so i know

    • Will R.

      I guess since you drove drunk and had an accident your experience and one opinion supersedes the proven statistics that texting and driving is more dangerous?

  3. one of my dads friends and his wife was in a motercycle reck with a truck and his wife couldnt remember that day later, she thought she was in the hospital for a checkup.

  4. There daughter was in a car wreck later and broke her arm and leg.

  5. Robert freeman

    Unless you have been living under a rock, you by now have figured, that the DUI .08 has been a great money maker. All in the name of who could be against it. Easy to prove. Now how on we going to cash in on texting while driving? not so easy to prove.

    • Will R.

      Exactly correct. Same with speeding. Easy to prove whether or not the speeder posed any danger to anyone. But the objective is collecting money, not protecting citizens from irresponsible people.

    • Bob Wyman

      Proving it is as easy as looking at the phone. Any calls or texts are stored in the memory and time and date are there as well.

  6. roc

    driving while texting should be punished by law much more diligently than those found to be impaired by statute. impaired drivers by definition are choosing to operate a motor vehicle after having used a mind altering substance. Well their judgment impaired. not knowing/thinking that their ability to drive may deteriorate over time. they often experience bad results. it is the wrong choice, but remember these people are “altered”. they don’t mean anyone any harm, they just to go home. Texting drivers is a whole different problem. these people are not “altered” and are using the whole cognition they are capable of and making the choice to operate a motor vehicle in an impossible manner. “Screw public safety my agenda is more important than yours”.

    The US penal system has probably got more dui offenders than any other offence. CHECK IT OUT. these are non violent people your taxes pay to house and feed, while all the “MAD” mothers text their way down a road near you.

  7. Kim

    My friend posted her Facebook status while driving at 11:28 a.m. and blew through an intersection at 11:29 a.m. She was killed instantly. It can wait.

  8. Dave

    I feel lives are more important than talking or texting.

  9. Mercedes Lyon

    Okay I believe drunk driving is worse for the fact you get into a car intoxicated and if you get into a car it just depends on how much you drink sometimes your body will react by just simply bouncing off and that’s it. Your just to drunk to really hurt you. But you don’t know who is in the other vehicle, you don’t know if you just killed them or what you did. Yes texting isn’t any better. At least with texting you take your eye off for a second. I was a person who use to text and drive since i was 16. I’m now 21 and I have almost got into two different accidents because I was focused on my phone rather then focusing on the road.I’m to the point my phone sits in my passenger seat because I want to live to see the next day. I want to be able to tell people yes I broke a habit and yes it was hard but I can live to see tomorrow. I’ve lost more family to drunk driving rather than to texting and driving.

  10. definitely the better decision to not text and drive

  11. Tom

    In my experience the most distracting thing in driving is thinking. Talking to the passenger is distracting. That’s why airlines restrict cockpit banter. Thinking pleasant thoughts can lead to daydreaming, visualizing a day at the beach for example. How many of us drive in auto pilot where we suddenly realize we passed the exit without realizing it. My point is let’s not demonize and outlaw behaviors that will not solve the problem but will restrict our freedom.

    • Will R.

      Wow. You sound serious. Please tell us you do not vote.

    • Bob Wyman

      Have you read what you actually said? Your freedom does not include taking away another person’s life. I have the freedom to own a firearm but that does not mean I have the freedom to use it or fire it in an unsafe manner. Wait until they have cellphone checkpoints!

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