WHAT’S UP WEDNESDAY: 11/03/21



Wednesday, November 03, 2021

 

The majority of Americans agree that drunk driving is wrong. But when it comes to texting while driving, motorists tend to take a more relaxed view, even though studies show that texting may be even more dangerous than driving while impaired.

Is Texting More Dangerous Than Drinking and Driving?

Research suggests that in some ways, texting is the new drunk driving. Even popular culture recognizes the phenomenon, dubbing texting while driving accidents as “intextigated” crashes. It’s a clever term, but hardly a laughing matter.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than intoxicated driving. The Transport Research Laboratory found that writing a text message slows driver reactions by 35 percent while drinking alcohol up to the legal limit slows reactions by 12 percent. Another study stated that texting drivers react 23 percent slower than intoxicated drivers do.

It’s also important to note that motorists’ attitudes don’t always align with their actions. Most people insist that drinking and driving is wrong. It’s the same response with texting. In a recent AAA study, 96 percent of respondents identified texting while driving as a “dangerous” or “very dangerous” action. Yet 43.7 percent of them admitted to reading a text message while driving and 42.7 percent acknowledged typing one behind the wheel, even though they knew could get caught by police.

None of this is meant to dismiss the fact that drunk driving is still a serious problem in the United States. However, NHTSA reports that drunk driving fatalities have dropped by a third in the last 30 years. At the same time, it cautions that texting while driving crashes are likely underreported. No matter how you look at it, American motorists are facing a deadly double threat.

Life is busy, but it’s also precious. The solution is simple — just don’t text while driving. If you really can’t wait to read a message, pull over and stop first. If you’re afraid you’ll give in to temptation, put the phone out of reach or ask a passenger to read the message and reply for you. When driving, safety for you, your passengers, your fellow motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists should always be the top priority. Too many people believe they can multitask while driving when in reality it’s something the human brain is incapable of. It’s just not worth the risk.