Is Texting While Driving More Dangerous Than Drunk Driving?
Due to the introduction and widespread adoption of smartphones in modern America,texting while driving has become a commonplace occurrence on the roads. Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous things a person can do behind the wheel, as the physical, cognitive, and visual distraction of a cell phone can cause a person to miss upcoming hazards and skyrocket their chances of being involved in a collision. But isdistracted driving more dangerous than driving drunk?
According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah, drivers who use their cell phones behind the wheel to send and receive messages expose themselves to the same risk of being involved in an accident as an intoxicated driver. The study involved comparing the reaction times and behaviors of drivers distracted by their cell phones and drivers with a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Participants who were observed texting while driving had a 9 percent slower reaction time when braking and a 24 percent variation in following distance when switching their attention from the phone to the road. In addition, distracted drivers took 19 percent longer to return to normal speed after braking than undistracted drivers. Three of the distracted drivers ended up colliding with the pace car used in the experiment.
The drunk drivers displayed equally poor driving skills. Drunk drivers drove slower but were more prone to engage in risky maneuvers than both undistracted and distracted drivers, with 23 percent more force applied to the brakes than the other groups. Interestingly, reaction times, accident rates, and the recovery of speed stayed more or less constant between the groups.
What Do Other Groups Say?
Despite the results of the University of Utah’s study, other research groups dispute their findings. According to estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), texting while driving can be up to six times more dangerous than driving under the influence. To put this in perspective, texting while driving carries the same level of risk as downing four beers and then getting behind the wheel.
According to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), the average texter takes their eyes off the road for 23 seconds to browse, dial, and send a text message. Regardless of the individual opinions of these organizations, the general consensus is clear that drivers should put away their cell phones while driving.
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