Drinking and driving is a dangerous combination. Drinking impairs your ability to drive, and driving under the influence increases the risk of accidents. Texting while driving is also a dangerous activity that can lead to accidents. When you combine all three of these activities, the risk of an accident skyrockets.
If you’re going to drink, don’t drive. If you’re going to drive, don’t drink. And if you’re going to text, don’t do it while you’re behind the wheel. These are simple rules that can help keep you safe on the road.
If we don’t make texting while driving as punishable an offense as drinking and driving, fatal accidents will continue to increase at an alarming rate. When sending or receiving a text message, a driver’s eyes are off the road for long enough to travel the length of a football field; that’s without even taking reaction time into account.
That is why texting while driving should be banned in every state. Most people think that they can multitask; however, studies have shown that when people think they are multitasking, they are actually just switching tasks quickly and not doing any of the tasks well. For example, a study by the University of Utah showed that drivers who text are six times more likely to cause an accident than drunk drivers. Drinking and driving is illegal in all fifty states, so why isn’t texting?
Texting also puts pedestrians at risk. In 2010, 3,092 people were killed in crashes caused by distracted drivers and an additional 416,000 were injured (“Distracted Driving”). A large percentage of those accidents were caused by drivers who were texting.
Distraction while driving is reaching epidemic proportions and becoming the new Driving under the influence. In an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving, the United States Department of Transportation has launched a variety of campaigns making April National Distracted Driving Awareness month.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,166 people were killed in car crashes involving distracted driving in 2017 alone. Drinking, driving and texting are all major forms of driver distraction that can lead to serious accidents, injuries and even death.
Drunk driving is one of the most dangerous things you can do on the road. Drinking impairs your judgment, reflexes and coordination, which are all essential for safe driving. Texting while driving is also extremely dangerous because it takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel and your mind off the task of driving. Distracted driving is a deadly combination that endangers everyone on the road.
The best way to avoid being involved in a distracted driving accident is to avoid being distracted while driving. Put your phone away, limit your passengers and focus on the task of driving. Pay attention to the road and be aware of your surroundings. Distracted driving is preventable and the best way to stay safe on the road is to keep your eyes on the prize – arriving at your destination safely.
While there are laws to prevent drinking and driving as well as texting while driving, few studies have compare the efficacy of the two. In all fifty states, it is considered a crime to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. This is known as a per se law.
Although all states have a per se law, the penalties for violating this limit differ among states. The majority of states punish first time offenders with a fine and/or license suspension while some mandate attendance in an alcohol education or treatment program. A few states also require installation of an ignition interlock device which requires the driver to pass a breathalyzer test in order to operate the vehicle.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2010 over 3,000 people were killed and 421,000 were injured in accidents where at least one driver was reported to be texting. In 2011 the NHTSA released voluntary guidelines recommending that states outlaw texting while driving however as of 2013 only 39 states had enacted laws making it illegal to text while operating a vehicle.
The penalties for texting while driving also differ among states but are typically less severe than those for drinking and driving. In most states, a first time offense is punishable by a fine with subsequent offenses carrying greater penalties. A few states mandate attendance in an educational program similar to those required for drinking and driving offenses.
The different punishments for drinking and driving compared to texting while driving can be attributed to a variety of factors. Drinking and driving has been illegal for many years longer than texting while driving so the public is more aware of the dangers and consequences of drinking and driving. Additionally, alcohol consumption affects driver impairment much more than texting which makes accidents caused by drunk drivers more likely to result in injuries or fatalities.
Today, 40 states have banned texting while driving (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2012). Even with a national push to ban texting while driving, Congress has not passed any laws making it beneficial for states to adopt a ban. According to the National Highway Administration, there were 32,885 deaths in motor vehicle collisions in 2010 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2010).
Texting while driving is becoming more and more common, especially among young adults. A study done by the Pew Research Center in 2010 found that 63% of all cell phone owners between the ages of 18 and 29 text while they are driving (Buchanan, 2012). This is a very large number considering that texting while driving can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving.
Texting while driving is a form of distracted driving, which is any activity that divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. Texting requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver. When a driver takes their eyes off the road to read or send a text, they are effectively blind for those few seconds. That’s why texting and driving is so dangerous; it takes the driver’s attention away from the road right when they need it most.
In 2012, 3,328 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2013). Of those killed, 10% were reported as being caused by cell phone use, whether it was texting or talking on the phone. That’s one out of ten deaths caused by distracted driving that were completely preventable.
Texting while driving is especially dangerous for young adults. A study done by the University of Michigan found that drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 are two times as likely to crash while texting than older drivers (Buchanan, 2012). This is likely because young adults are the most frequent texters and they are also the least experienced drivers. They are more likely to take risks while driving, and less likely to recognize dangers on the road.