Few people would argue that drinking and driving is a bad idea. The laws in all fifty states are pretty strict. The devastating consequences of such activity have been felt by more families than most people can imagine. The drivers found guilty of driving while intoxicated often see a suspension of their license. A quick comparison search on a website like InsuranceQuotes, shows a steep increase in insurance premiums after a DUI conviction.
Given all the attention drinking and driving receives, it is surprising that there is a much more dangerous activity that many Americans engage in when they get behind the wheel. Cell phone use while driving has a much higher probability of causing an accident than drinking and driving. Many people will likely disagree, citing statistics of the total number of fatalities due to drinking and driving. The sheer numbers over the decades are overwhelming.
Studies show, however, that a person’s response time while intoxicated is actually faster than it is when they are texting. Car and Driver conducted a study to determine just how much impact texting has on a driver’s reaction times. They used the same drivers and tested them while they had an alcohol level of 0.08, legally intoxicated in most states. They found that, on average, a person’s response time was 4 times slower when texting. Car and Driver notes that their research merely supports the same conclusions of much more rigorous studies conducted in academia.
Text Free Driving, a group formed to help raise awareness of the dangers of cell phone use while driving, presents a number of startling statistics. Only 28 states have laws prohibiting texting while driving. Nearly 90 percent of Americans believe texting while driving is hazardous and there should be laws prohibiting it. Yet, almost 60 percent admit that they engage in texting while they drive, despite their knowledge of how dangerous it can be.
Drinking and driving was not considered a problem until the number of fatalities associated with the activity became overwhelming. Clearly, having a slower reaction time makes the driver much more dangerous. Applying the brakes when the car in front suddenly stops or when a child chases a stray basketball into the street requires a fast response time to avoid disaster. Hopefully, legislators and citizens can take action much more quickly to effectively limit and even reduce the number of people who text while driving.