Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Distracted Driver Accidents | August 23, 2019

Scroll to top



Is Texting While Driving More Dangerous Than Drunk Driving?

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

According to one DWI attorney in Houston, the answer is yes. “In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured due to car accidents involving distracted drivers and the number is rising every year. Drunk driving claimed 9,967 lives in 2014 and was responsible for only 290,000 injuries, a number that decreases each year.”

This notion is not that hard to believe. 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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Hoosier

      it should not take an app. The phone should not be operable when driving a car. Greed from the phone companies will not admit this problem and its gonna get worse. All cell phone use when driving should be banned, turned off when driving !

    • stop drinking while driving

    • Susannah

      Hi Julie,
      Did you ever make your app?

  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?

    • More drunk drivers are more aware that they are drunk,and focus on the road,looking at a text is distracting and loose your vision on the road. Then you’ll realize it was a bad thing to do and then kill you or injure you and the other people around you

  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.

      • Josh

        That is true, but they can’t get into your phone without a search warrant, and are they going to go to court to get a search warrant for $50, or however much? I don’t think so.

    • Unknown

      Well said, Robert…I couldn’t agree more.

      Texting and driving 6 times more dangerous than drinking and driving. Drinking and driving 6 times more expensive for the offender. I can smell the hypocrisy and corruption from here.

  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.

    • Grant

      Darwins’ theory at work.

  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.

    • Stephen

      Okay I believe that the study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is more accurate than your personal experiences.

  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!

    • Stephen

      drunk driving and texting while driving is bad. we need to outlaw these behaviors or someone could lose their life

  12. Beverly R.

    Texting is another example of distracted driving. While a driver may not be driving under the influence, they still are not focused on the road. Anything can happen in a split second, the time your eyes are off the road.
    I caught myself swerving out of my lane when texting. Now my cellphone stays in my purse while driving. I have heard too many reports of fatal accidents due to texting while driving.
    An incoming text or phone call can wait until I can pull over or arrive at my destination. Prior to cellphones, we had to pull over to a payphone if we needed to contact someone. Yes, cellphones come in handy if we need to reach someone or they are trying to reach us. But it can wait until we can get to a point where we can pull over. Our contacts, friends and family want us to arrive alive.


  13. Ballin

    Texting and driving is worse because you are not looking at the road when you are driving and when you are drunk you see it but it is fuzzy.Also when you text and drive it is a choice and when you drink and drive you are in a trance because the alcohol is kind of taking over your brain.

  14. Surveys have been done asking teens why they TWD. Their sad response was that they think it seems cool and they want to fit in with their friends. That’s not okay.

  15. Diane

    One thing about the drunk/impaired driving statistic is that if you are involved in an accident and you are drunk it is automatically your fault even though the other driver could have caused the accident. The other factor is could you have avoided the accident if you where sober, sometimes no matter if you are drunk or sober it could not have been avoided.
    A story not too long ago was about this man who was above the legal limit when a pedestrian walked out in front of him and was killed. Witnesses say the kid ran out from behind a parked car so fast no one could have seen or stopped in time. The driver was charged with DUI and is now in prison. If he completely sober it would not have made a difference.
    DUI laws make big money for the government and private industry. However no matter how tough they make laws it does not solve the problem. A different approach is needed, it should not be how much money can we make but how do we fix this problem.
    Technology is already there it just has to be implemented. Cars can be enabled to know when a driver is not responding well. Your input on the wheel, brake and gas can be easily detected and if you do not fall within acceptable parameters you can be warned to pull over and the engine will shut down. All cars can be built or retrofitted simply. This is already built and ready. Surprisingly government agencies are fighting this both to protect their revenue source and the all those that profit from DUI convictions. Counselors ordered by the court, makers of breathalyzers etc.

    • Susannah

      Hi Diane,
      I know you wrote this a year ago, but just now read your post. I have been hit 7 times by texters. I think the only thing people respond to is money, or loss of it, and jail time. Although I understand your frustration about government and others profiting from DUI’s, I do believe having financial consequences is the only way people will think before driving drunk or texting while driving. Telling sad stories or watching movies just don’t do the trick. I wish the fines and punishment were much higher and severe. I think if a 5 year and $50,000 fine were in place for these offenses, the problem would be solved.

    • Sheila Caddell

      Yes, but we are the number one defense against this type of negligence, and yet we make excuses for ourselves, and then also we would attempt to enable our vehicles to remind us to not be negligent; all while we continue ignoring the cold hard facts. Read the statistics on the death and destruction caused by the TWD and DWIs that occur each year. Are not the monies generated by the INTERLOCK device, too much to have to pay as it is, when bottom line it is the human who should be in control of being responsible, not the machine.

  16. driving is scary

    Obviously there are more people looking at their phones than driving at .08, but the ratio for fatalities is 1:21 or 1 fatality from cell phone use to 21 via alcohol impairment. How is that possible if texting is worse? And the distraction of cell phone usage is not the majority of distractions as the writer says… you can find it on the cdc website – it’s 14% of all distracted driving fatalities which includes but not limited to smoking, eating, drinking coffee, adjusting radio, etc. I agree that it’s pretty scary but gee why make up stuff to push the agenda? I am more worried about a drunk driver in the lane next to me than chatty Cathy – if she has her eyes on the road. I am worried about the impact of legalizing pot as well and having stoned drivers sharing the space! Look, cell phones and texting or posting FB, instagram, etc is really stupid, but drinking is worse statistically (in the lab is different I guess). Chatting with the eyes on the road is better than a drunk for sure.

  17. Texting is risky business

    Texting and driving is far more dangerous than drinking and driving. I’ve done both and suffered the consequences. They are both dangerous but texting and driving takes your whole attention away from driving. Texting while driving causes the same distractions but far more people text and drive than drink and drive. There’s far more texters than drinkers. So that makes texting and driving worse because it’s far more common. Everyone doesn’t drink but most ppl text.

  18. Sheila Caddell

    Not to disagree with either view as both activities are not meant for anyone to participate in while driving ; which brings me to my point : Both cell phone use and drinking while driving are separate activities altogether , which have no place in your car with you behind the wheel! Driving a 3 to 4000 lb. vehicle at any speed requires focusing on driving, keeping your eyes and attention ON driving, and not on anything else. Even the safest drivers get killed while paying close attention and driving safely, due to the negligence of others who aren’t practicing safe driving. Occasionally freak accidents happen to people that kill them, say simply because they hit an animal at night and then lost control of their 2 TON vehicle and then hit a tree at 50 MPH …my point being that anytime we get behind the wheel we must be aware of the fact that we are in control of what is a large heavy metal object which can crush the soft tissue of a human body instantly! I shudder to think of any drivers who are drunk to the point of blacking out but who are still driving at the time! Their minds aren’t even available to focus on driving because they are inebriated and elsewhere…just as the drivers mind, and hands are engaged in other activities and are elsewhere when they use their cell phones while driving. Picture yourself DRIVING YOUR TWO TON AUTOMOBILE . going 55 mph, and you get a text that tells you that YOUR MOTHER GOT HIT BY A DRUNK DRIVER AND SHE IS DEAD. Well, guess what!?! By this time you’re probably dead too, as are the children you barely caught a glimpse of (as your eyes glazed over and you went into shock when you found out your mom is dead) as you veered out of your lane into the path of an oncoming car travelling in the opposite direction at 55 MPH also, having a head on collision with them KILLING YOU ALL!!! As we all know by now; The average speed in the US is about 55mph. Taking five seconds to read a text in this time means that the driver travels the length of a football field without looking at the road, or being distracted. Reading a text message while driving successfully distracts a driver for a minimum of five seconds each time. This means that the chances of an accident occurring while reading a text is extremely high indeed. It takes an average of three seconds after a driver’s mind is taken off the road for any road accident to occur. This is the bare minimum amount of time it takes, and it is surprisingly small. Three seconds is the time it takes to turn your ignition when starting your car. THREE SECONDS ! You were not paying attention for just three seconds and you died. Someone else wasn’t paying attention for three seconds and killed your mom. The point is ; DON’T ARGUE FOR OR AGAINST EITHER ONE! WHETHER YOU’RE USING YOUR CELL PHONE, DRIVING DRUNK, OR EATING DONUTS; YOU ARE NOT USING BOTH HANDS, NOR ARE YOU TOTALLY FOCUSED ON DRIVING!!! SO JUST OBEY THIS AND DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU! QUIT MAKING EXCUSES FOR YOURSELVES, AND ADMIT THE COLD, DEADLY FACTS, AND STOP THE INDIFFERENCE! Would you want the other driver to engage in any activity which causes him to run head on into you!?! Think about it every time you get behind the wheel, people.

Submit a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.