They say that a person’s attention is taken away from the road for at least five seconds when they text and drive. Driving at a rate of 55 miles per hour for five seconds is the equivalent of traveling the length of a football field… without looking at the road! It would be fair to say that texting while driving is extremely dangerous, but is it more dangerous than driving drunk?
A new study reported in the journal, Traffic Injury Prevention, suggests that texting while driving is just as dangerous as driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.1 percent.
Using a driving simulator, researchers measured the reaction abilities of drivers who were engaged in a simple conversation using a hands-free device, a hands-free conversation requiring more attention, and engaged in texting while driving. A week later, the same participants returned to have their driving abilities gauged using the same simulated driving tasks. Only this time their driving abilities were measured at three different times, while having three different blood alcohol contents; 0.04, 0.07, and 0.10 BAC.
It was found that a simple hands-free conversation had little impact on the driver. If, however, the driver engaged in a hands-free conversation that required more of the driver’s attention, their driving ability was comparable to having a blood alcohol content of 0.07 percent. It was further found that when the participants texted while driving, their driving abilities declined as drastically as when they drove with a blood alcohol content of 0.10 percent.
It goes without saying that texting while driving is extremely dangerous. But this study tends to show that it poses similar risks to our streets as DUIs. This makes me wonder. Why the discrepancy in, not only law enforcement resources dedicated to stopping each, but also penalties attached to each? The penalty for texting while driving, an infraction, is a soft slap on the wrist when compared to the fines and fees associated with a DUI which is generally a misdemeanor.
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