Texting and driving as bad as drinking and driving

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.


5 thoughts on “Texting and driving as bad as drinking and driving

  1. “I don’t know how they came up with some of the stats they threw in there.” Really, it’s called scientific research. The NTSB has a significant testing laboratory including state-of-the-art simulators. The other statistics can be gathered from surveys, police reports, etc… My guess is the numbers are actually higher than what the studies say.

    It’s also disingenuous to say “texting and driving as bad as drunk driving”. The comparison was for someone at the legal limit of .08.

    Instead of mocking Rob McKenna’s efforts, maybe do some research and write a post that isn’t driven by your political leanings.

  2. Having been victimized by someone who was texting while driving, and having seen far too many instances of it, I really believe the penalties should be elevated; after all these people are in full possession of their faculties, and have made a conscious choice to break the law and endanger others. That strikes me as along the lines of premeditated. I may never regain the full use of my arm, and the money I might get in a settlement won’t make up for the loss of use, or the pleasure of being a “whole” person.
    If the folks in power really want to stop this, it would be simple enough to write a line or three of code that would nullify a device’s texting ability if it were moving at more than a walking pace. I guess, just like cigarettes and alcohol, not enough important people have died yet…

  3. This hit too close to home. My wife has two broken legs due to a driver who was reaching for her cell phone, was on some medication, and was at .09 in August. To date, we have not heard if the driver is being charged by the proceuter’s office.

    Wasn’t there recently a phone outage in the midwest and traffic accidents in the area during that period fell dramaticly?

  4. Texting and driving is worse than drunk driving. When you are drunk your brain uses muscle memory to continue driving. But when you pick up that cell phone your body changes gears and forgets how to drive. I drive for my business and almost every day I’m affected by distracted drivers talking on their cell phones. Just yesterday some lady almost ran me over in the parking lot at the grocery store as she pulled out of her spot while talking on the phone. A couple of weeks ago I was following a woman in Poulsbo talking on her phone, I watched as her car ran up on the sidewalk. Lucky there were no pedestrians.

    If you are one of the scofflaws who ignore the law, you are no better or even worse than a drunk driver and deserve to be ridiculed for your selfish and unsafe behavior.

    You can buy a decent blue tooth headset for under $20 on Amazon. Most phones have voice dial features. There is no excuse to drive with that phone in your hand. If you see someone doing it, say something to them before another child is killed in our town.

  5. Totally agree with you Robin. The other day at a gas station I observed this guy filling up while texting, forgot to replace the pump hose, hopped in the car & began to drive off. All while still texting. Luckily we did not all blow up when the hose pulled out of the pump. When the clerk came running out the guy says, “oh are we ok with this?” The manager was next to run out & yells out “hell no that’s about $1300 bucks to replace the hose & related safety equipment.”

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