Texting while driving: more dangerous than DUI

A study completed in 2012 by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration shows that Texting while driving (TWD) is SIX times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI).

The study also shows Texting while driving (TWD) is also more dangerous than driving while high on marijuana. The same conclusions were reached in 2009 by Car and Driver Magazine when they conducted a test that measured braking times and distances. Car and Driver Magazine rigged a car to alert drivers when to brake. They then tested how long it took the driver to brake when sober, when legally drunk at .08, when reading an e-mail, and when sending a text.

Driving at 70 miles per hour, the driver was slower and slower reacting and braking when e-mailing and texting.

The results:

Unimpaired: .54 seconds to brake

Legally drunk: add 4 feet (.08% BAC)

Reading e-mail: add 36 feet

Sending a text: add 70 feet

The reason texting while driving is so dangerous is because it involves three out of three types or categories of distracted driving, while being under the influence of alcohol or marijuana only distracts the driver in two ways.

Distracted driving comes in three different forms:

Cognitive or mental distraction occurs when a driver’s mind is not focused on driving. Distractions can include talking to another passenger and listening to the radio.  These distractions take the drivers’ focus away from their driving.

Visual distraction occurs when a driver looks at anything other than the road ahead.  Checking a child’s seat belt is a visually distracting behavior as is glancing at electronic devices for the car such as GPS devices.

Manual distraction occurs when the driver takes one or both hands off the wheel for any reason. Common examples include eating and drinking in the car, adjusting the GPS, or trying to get something from a purse, wallet, or briefcase.

Texting while driving involves all three types of distraction.  DWI/DUI does not involve Manual distraction.

Statistics that tell us the number of collisions, the number of injuries, the number of deaths and the financial costs to society support the conclusion that Texting while driving is on the increase. Drunk driving statistics in all these categories are mixed, but overall are decreasing.

In 2012 Texting while driving accounted for over 1.6 million accidents in the United States. Every day in 2012, 1,060 people were injured.  Eleven teens died each day.

Overall, Texting while driving is the leading cause of death among teen drivers. Texting while driving is responsible for slightly less than 25 percent of all automobile collisions.

It is not surprising to learn that teenagers are the worst offenders of Texting while driving as their maturity level and their ability to understand the potential consequences of their actions have not fully developed. What is surprising, however, is that Texting while driving behavior of adults has increased year by year.

As a society that longs to be connected, we have convinced ourselves of the importance of staying connected and of the need for others to hear from us immediately if not sooner. We believe we can multi-task successfully in virtually all situations without consequences.

Driving a car is something most of do many times each day.  But for precisely that reason, we forget how truly demanding it is to drive safely, while believe we are the best driver.

We, particularly teens, believe we are invincible, and that tragedy will not strike us.  Interestingly, when asked questions on this topic, most of us give honest answers.

State Farm Insurance Company has conducted a survey in this area every year since 2009. The State Farm survey asks drivers to share their thoughts on the degree of “distractedness” they would attach to numerous behaviors while driving.

Overwhelmingly, survey participants found Texting while driving to be “very distracting” and by significant percentage points greater than the remaining two types of distracted behavior, such as reaching for something in the car and attending to a pet or a child.

State legislatures throughout the United States are recognizing the dangers of Texting and driving and are passing laws outlawing the practice. In California, the fine for Texting while driving can be excessive when penalty assessments are added.

Driving a car requires the driver’s complete attention and focus.  It is imperative that drivers of all ages be aware of the dangers relating to Texting while driving and avoid doing it at all cost.