Driving while Texting Six Times More Dangerous than Driving while Drunk
Driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).1 The federal agency reports that sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent -- when traveling at 55 mph -- of driving the length of an entire football field while blindfolded.2
Texting in cars and trucks causes over 3,000 deaths and 330,000 injuries per year, according to a Harvard Center for Risk Analysis study.3
Texting while driving a vehicle has now replaced drinking while driving as the leading cause of accidents and deaths of teenage drivers.4 Texting in traffic isn’t simply a problem among teens and 47% of adults admit that they text while driving.5 Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than non-texting drivers.6
|State Texting Banned while Driving7|
|New Mexico||No 10|
The proportion of alcohol-related traffic crash deaths has dropped 52% since 1982, and are now at historic lows, but the proportion of traffic accident fatalities that are NOT alcohol-related has jumped 78% during the same time.14 Although there are still far too many, we’re winning the war against alcohol-related traffic deaths. But texting-related traffic fatalities are epidemic and we’ve barely begun to fight the problem. Indeed, it appears that people are barely aware of it.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) could be of enormous help in the struggle, but has not only shown no interest but has repeatedly resisted any discussion of this major cause of traffic crashes, injuries and deaths.
Fortunately, there’s also good news. A survey conducted by NHTSA found that 90% of drivers support laws to ban texting while driving.15 A survey reported by Nationwide Insurance found that 80% of drivers support some type of cell phone usage restrictions. The majority of respondents say they are supportive of laws restricting any type of cell phone use while driving; 80% support a ban on text messaging while driving; 80% support a ban on e-mailing while driving; and almost 75% believe that restrictions should apply to all drivers, not just specific groups such as teens.16
- Hosking, S. G., Young, K. L., & Regan, M. A. The Effects of Text Messaging on Young Novice Driver Performance. Monash University Accident Research Centre, Report No. 246, 2006.
- Nemme, Heidi and White, Katherine M. Texting while driving:psychosocial influences on young people’s texting intentions and behaviour. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 2012, 42(4), 1257-1265.
- 1. Wilms, Todd. It Is Time For A 'Parental Control, No Texting While Driving' Phone. Forbes Business, September 18, 2012.
- 2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2012. DOT HS 811 629
- 3. Wilms, Todd. It Is Time For A 'Parental Control, No Texting While Driving' Phone. Forbes Business, September 18, 2012.
- 4. Texting While Driving Now Surpasses Drinking and Driving for Teenage Accidents and Fatalities (PRWEB) May 23, 2012.
- 5. Washington Post, May 2012, cited by Todd Wilms in It Is Time For A 'Parental Control, No Texting While Driving' Phone. Forbes Business, September 18, 2012.
- 6. Remarks delivered by David Strickland at the Texas Traffic Safety Conference in San Antonio, TX, June 5, 2012.
- 7. Governors Highway Safety Association. Cell Phone and Texting Laws (ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/cellphone_laws.html). Accessed November 15, 2012.
- 8. Banned for school bus drivers and holders of learner or provisional licenses.
- 9. Banned for drivers age 21 or younger.
- 10. Banned for holders of learner or provisional licenses.
- 11. Banned for school bus drivers and holders of learner and provisional licenses.
- 12. Banned for school bus drivers with passengers age 17 or younger and holders of intermediate licenses for first 12 months.
- 13. Texting while driving is a secondary offense. That is, it can be ticketed only in connection with another citable or ticketable offense.
- 14. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 2010 Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview. Traffic Safety Facts: Research Note. 2011 (December). DOT HS 811 552. Page 2, Table 3; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Traffic Fatalities in 2010 Drop to Lowest Rate in Recorded History. NHTSA Press Release. April 1, 2011.
- 15. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2012. DOT HS 811 629
- 16. Nationwide Insurance. Driving While Distracted: Statistics To Know. nationwide.com/newsroom/dwd-facts-figures.jsp
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