The moment of truth

For decades, drunk driving has been at the forefront of debate. Stricter laws have been passed across the nation leading to a decrease in drunk driving accidents. However, a new driving threat is quickly taking its place. That threat is texting while driving and many say that it is actually more dangerous than drunk driving. Texting while driving a vehicle has now replaced drinking while driving as the leading cause of accidents and deaths of teenage drivers. Texting while driving and drinking while driving are similar in many ways yet different in others.

Everyone knows that drinking and driving is precarious and can be fatal, but texting and driving is equally dangerous. Texting while driving is like consuming about four beers in one sitting. The impairments associated with drunk driving and texting while driving are similar, according to the National Highway & Transportation Administration. Both cause distraction and impaired driving that can result in following too closely, not being able to brake on time, weaving into oncoming traffic and even death. Both of these dangerous activities have caused death and injuries.

Drivers who are texting while behind the wheel have a 23% higher chance of causing a crash. That is equivalent to downing four beers and then getting behind the wheel. Over the years, it is proven that there are now more deaths caused from people who are texting while behind the wheel than there are drunk driving. According to the NHTSA 2011 Traffic Safety Facts, laws passed by all 50 states lowering the threshold of illegal driving to . 08 blood alcohol content have resulted in a decrease in drunk driving fatalities. In 2002, there were 12,405 drunk driving fatalities. That number dropped to 9,296 in 2011.

While drunk driving fatalities have been decreasing, deadly accidents involving distracted driving are increasing. Drivers are more likely to miss critical traffic signals, are slower to respond to the signals that they do detect, and more likely to be involved in rear end collisions when they are conversing on a cell phone. In addition, even when participants direct their gaze at objects in the driving environment, they often fail to see them when they are talking on a cell phone because attention has been directed away from the external environment and toward the phone conversation.

However, what is lacking is the ability for an individual to take on dual task activity. Drinking while driving and texting while driving both take away your full attention from the road. When one drinks ones mind is inflated and can not focus on what is happening around them. When one texts there mind is also in another place and that person isn’t focusing on the road but on their cellular device. Both of these take ones mind to a dangerous place which causes one to lose sight of what they are doing or what they are capable of doing to someone else.

Not focusing on the road and the people around ones area can lead to not only the drivers death but to the death or injuries of pedestrians. The drivers mind might feel like it is in one place but really it is in another. Texting in cars and trucks cause over 3,000 deaths and 330,000 injuries per year, according to a Harvard Center for Risk Analysis study. Texting while driving a vehicle has now replaced drinking while driving as the leading cause of accidents and deaths of teenage drivers.

Driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 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 which is equivalent to driving 55 miles per hour across the length of an entire football field while blindfolded. Texting while driving takes your eyes off the road which makes your reaction time slower.

The average time it takes you to text, read, or look at your phone is five seconds. That is driving approximately five football fields without looking because you are replying back to someone. It is less risky to talk on the phone while driving than texting because your eyes are not off the road as they would be if you were texting. It may seem safer, but you are also distracted and more focused on your conversation. Compared to drinking and driving, texting and driving takes your eyes off of the road but does not impair your reaction time like the other.

Texting while driving is illegal in some states and becoming a nationwide law. Driving under the influence is illegal in all states and can put one in jail and the other in a coffin. Drinking in addition to driving impairs your senses and makes you react slower to everything and makes it difficult to walk or see straight as well. Even taking one sip of alcohol impairs your motor skills. This makes you more likely to be in an accident and take an innocent bystander’s life. Over half of teens do not see a problem with texting and driving and think they can do it safely.

Studies have shown that roughly twenty three percent of all car accidents involve someone using a cell phone. Of all fatal traffic accidents, one third have involved alcohol. Drunk drivers cause deaths approximately every forty eight minutes. This shows that when someone drinks and drives they are not only putting their life in jeopardy they are putting others in jeopardy as well. With all the similarities and differences that texting while driving and drinking while driving provides, it shows that they are both serious issues that can be avoided at all costs.