Is Texting While Driving More Dangerous than Drunk Driving?

Although the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol are well-known, drunk driving is still responsible for about 10,000 traffic fatalities per year in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, alcohol is a factor in one out of three motor vehicle deaths. Though it wasn’t always the case, drunk driving is now appropriately seen as an extremely irresponsible and dangerous act.

Now, some experts are saying that distracted driving may be even riskier than drunk driving. Specifically, many wonder if texting while driving is even more dangerous than drunk driving. It’s important to understand the dangers of drunk driving and distracted driving, so that we can take steps as a society to make the roads safer and reduce the number of auto accidents.

The Dangers of Drunk Driving

By now, everybody should know that drinking alcohol and getting behind the wheel of a car is incredibly dangerous. A driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .10 is seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash than someone who has had no alcoholic beverages. If a person’s blood alcohol concentration is .15, the risk of a fatal accident is 25 times more likely. In other words, the more a person drinks, the more likely it is that they will have an accident.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving refers to any activity engaged in by a person driving that takes their attention away from the road. Browsing through the radio stations, talking to a passenger, eating, putting on makeup—these are all examples of distracted driving.

Of all the various ways a person can drive distracted, texting while driving may be the most dangerous. As the NHTSA puts it, “sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”

In 2015, almost 3,500 people were killed as a result of distracted driving. On top of that, 391,000 people were injured because of distracted driving. The total number of traffic fatalities in 2015 was 35,092 which was a 7.2% increase from the year before, the largest increase in 50 years. Accidents, injuries, and fatalities at this rate have led some to describe distracted driving as an epidemic.

How Does Distracted Driving Compare to Drunk Driving?

So, is texting while driving as dangerous as drunk driving? There are several ways to compare the dangers of distracted driving and drunk driving. The first way is to look at the numbers.

In 2014, 3,179 people died as a result of distracted driving and 431,000 were injured. That same year, 9,967 people died because of drunk driving and 290,000 were injured. In other words, drunk driving is responsible for more fatalities, while distracted driving is responsible for more injuries. Additionally, the number of drunk driving injuries decreases every year while the number of distracted driving injuries increases.

Another way to compare drunk driving and texting while driving is to look at how they affect people’s reaction times. Car and Driver Magazine performed an experiment to see how dangerous texting and driving is compared to drunk driving. The experiment consisted of cars outfitted with a red light that alerted drivers when they needed to brake. They tested how long it would take to hit the brakes when sober, when legally impaired at a blood alcohol concentration level of .08, when reading an email, and when sending a text.

Sober drivers took .54 seconds to brake. Legally drunk drivers needed an additional four feet. Drivers attempting to read an email needed 36 extra feet. For drivers that tried to send a text, an additional 70 feet were necessary.

This experiment shows how dramatically distracted driving - especially texting and driving - can affect reaction times. It’s clear that texting while driving is at least as dangerous as drunk driving.

What is Being Done About Distracted Driving?  

To address the dangers associated with distracted driving, especially talking on a cell phone or texting while driving, many states are introducing new laws that punish the behavior. In addition to these laws, there are many groups advocating to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. Because younger people have a tendency to text while driving the most, it’s important to get the word out. Many tech companies are also creating apps designed to curtail distracted driving.

Contact an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney

If you’ve been involved in an accident with a drunk or distracted driver, don’t hesitate to contact the experienced auto accident attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield. With over 70 collective years of legal and trial experience, our attorneys can answer your questions during a free consultation or represent your case, if necessary.

Although the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol are well-known, drunk driving is still responsible for about 10,000 traffic fatalities per year in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, alcohol is a factor in one out of three motor vehicle deaths. Though it wasn’t always the case, drunk driving is now appropriately seen as an extremely irresponsible and dangerous act.

Now, some experts are saying that distracted driving may be even riskier than drunk driving. Specifically, many wonder if texting while driving is even more dangerous than drunk driving. It’s important to understand the dangers of drunk driving and distracted driving, so that we can take steps as a society to make the roads safer and reduce the number of auto accidents.

The Dangers of Drunk Driving

By now, everybody should know that drinking alcohol and getting behind the wheel of a car is incredibly dangerous. A driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .10 is seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash than someone who has had no alcoholic beverages. If a person’s blood alcohol concentration is .15, the risk of a fatal accident is 25 times more likely. In other words, the more a person drinks, the more likely it is that they will have an accident.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving refers to any activity engaged in by a person driving that takes their attention away from the road. Browsing through the radio stations, talking to a passenger, eating, putting on makeup—these are all examples of distracted driving.

Of all the various ways a person can drive distracted, texting while driving may be the most dangerous. As the NHTSA puts it, “sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”

In 2015, almost 3,500 people were killed as a result of distracted driving. On top of that, 391,000 people were injured because of distracted driving. The total number of traffic fatalities in 2015 was 35,092 which was a 7.2% increase from the year before, the largest increase in 50 years. Accidents, injuries, and fatalities at this rate have led some to describe distracted driving as an epidemic.

How Does Distracted Driving Compare to Drunk Driving?

So, is texting while driving as dangerous as drunk driving? There are several ways to compare the dangers of distracted driving and drunk driving. The first way is to look at the numbers.

In 2014, 3,179 people died as a result of distracted driving and 431,000 were injured. That same year, 9,967 people died because of drunk driving and 290,000 were injured. In other words, drunk driving is responsible for more fatalities, while distracted driving is responsible for more injuries. Additionally, the number of drunk driving injuries decreases every year while the number of distracted driving injuries increases.

Another way to compare drunk driving and texting while driving is to look at how they affect people’s reaction times. Car and Driver Magazine performed an experiment to see how dangerous texting and driving is compared to drunk driving. The experiment consisted of cars outfitted with a red light that alerted drivers when they needed to brake. They tested how long it would take to hit the brakes when sober, when legally impaired at a blood alcohol concentration level of .08, when reading an email, and when sending a text.

Sober drivers took .54 seconds to brake. Legally drunk drivers needed an additional four feet. Drivers attempting to read an email needed 36 extra feet. For drivers that tried to send a text, an additional 70 feet were necessary.

This experiment shows how dramatically distracted driving - especially texting and driving - can affect reaction times. It’s clear that texting while driving is at least as dangerous as drunk driving.

What is Being Done About Distracted Driving?  

To address the dangers associated with distracted driving, especially talking on a cell phone or texting while driving, many states are introducing new laws that punish the behavior. In addition to these laws, there are many groups advocating to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. Because younger people have a tendency to text while driving the most, it’s important to get the word out. Many tech companies are also creating apps designed to curtail distracted driving.

Contact an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney

If you’ve been involved in an accident with a drunk or distracted driver, don’t hesitate to contact the experienced auto accident attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield. With over 70 collective years of legal and trial experience, our attorneys can answer your questions during a free consultation or represent your case, if necessary.


Call us at 1.877.928.9147 For A Free Consultation!

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