Rob McKenna, our state’s attorney general, sent out a press release today warning of the dangers of texting and driving, and announcing a public service advertising campaign to try to curb it. I have to applaud the effort, but I don’t know how they came up with some of the stats they threw in there.
Here’s the best one. “Research has shown that using a cell phone delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.” That’s from Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council, which is also in on the campaign. That would be some interesting research. You could have a drunk guy driving one car and a person on a phone driving the other, then run out in front of them and see who stops the fastest. I suppose it would hurt about the same no matter who hit you. If drunk driving and cell phone driving are equally dangerous, I would think texting and driving would be worse than drunk driving.
Here are some more stats from the press release. Eighty-two percent of young adult drivers have read a text message while driving. They consider young to be 16 to 24 years old. Seventy-five percent have sent a text message while driving and 49 percent have done it many times.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is also participating in the campaign, says distracted driving is the No. 1 killer of American teens. Sixteen percent of drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving.
Here’s another one I wonder how they figured out. A texting driver, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, is 23 times more likely to be in a crash than a non-texting driver. Their message is clear: “Stop the tests and stop the wrecks.”
They have set up a website at www.stoptextsstopwrecks.org where teens can find facts about the impact of texting while driving, see tips for how to curb the behavior and share their thoughts.