Texting and Driving
You like to think of yourself as a responsible driver, right? In today's world, most people agree that drinking and driving is definitely not responsible. In fact, given that each year an estimated 150 drunk drivers in California alone are convicted of vehicular manslaughter, you might say that drinking and driving is not only irresponsible, it is down right deadly. With society's increased awareness and negative attitude toward drinking and driving, the belief that driving while intoxicated is a destructive behavior is widely accepted. What society is just recently beginning to buy into is that distracted driving can be just as dangerous, if not more dangerous than driving under the influence.
80% of drivers use their phones while behind the wheel, and 66 percent of 18-24 year olds text or email while driving.
Reaction times of drivers who text deteriorate by 35%, compared to a 12% deterioration of reaction time for drivers drinking alcohol at the legal limit, and 21% for those using marijuana.
Interpreting Texting and Driving Statistics
When analyzing the two statistics above, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that texting and driving can be a lethal combination. Given the shear number of drivers using mobile devices while driving and their slowed reaction times, it's no surprise that in 2008, almost 6,000 people died and another 500,000 were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers, including those texting.
One of the most revealing studies was done by The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in July 2009, showing that drivers texting were 23 times more at risk of getting into a collision. Strikingly, texting drivers were almost 4 times more distracted than drivers dialing or talking on their cell phones who were 6 times more at risk of crashing than non-distracted drivers. The reasoning behind why texting and driving can be so distracting, even more distracting than talking on a cell phone, is two-fold. First and foremost, drivers need to look away from the road and use their hands when typing a message. Secondly, drivers often get so wrapped up in the text message conversation they are having that their ability to fully concentrate on driving dwindles.
Teen Drivers and Text Messaging
When it comes to teen drivers, texting while operating a vehicle is even more problematic. With inexperience and risk-taking tendencies already plaguing younger drivers, adding texting into the mix only makes matters worse. Even teens themselves confess that texting is their biggest driving distraction; with 37% of those surveyed admitting that text messaging was extremely distracting. With "teen driving texters", you've got drivers who are not only inexperienced novices; they aren't fully paying attention to the road.
In response to this growing nationwide problem, several states, like California, have already passed laws forbidding the use of hand held text-messaging devices by drivers, and additional states are expected to follow suit. In October 2009, the White House also joined the anti-texting-and-driving party, banning all 4.5 million federal employees from using messaging features on their phones while driving.
Sources: iii.org, washingtonpost.com, timesonline.co.uk, tennessean.com
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