As many people know, drunk driving is a dangerous activity that substantially increases the chances of getting in an accident. These dangers have prompted most states to pass laws to penalize drunk driving and inform drivers about its dangers. However, the dangers of texting while driving are just beginning to become widely known. Most people who text while behind the wheel are younger children who lack a more mature understanding of driving. With limited experience, teens and young adults caused the vast majority of accidents related to texting. In fact, texting while driving increases the chances of getting in an accident by 23%. Therefore, it is important that people today understand how texting while driving can be even more dangerous than drunk driving.
Drunk driving and texting while driving are both very similar in how they affect coordination, reaction time, focus, and the demographics that usually perpetrate these offenses. Texting behind the wheel substantially impairs a driver's coordination while on the road causing drivers to swerve in their lane and stop too late. When looking down at the phone, drivers are unable to react quickly when a hazard emerges on the road. Since texting is a cognitive activity, it also distracts the driver from attention directed to the roadway. Finally, most of the accidents that occur as a result of texting are caused by younger adults. The same is true with drunk driving, where more than half of convicted drunk drivers are under the age of 25.
According to studies, texting while driving can be more than six times more dangerous than drunk driving. In fact, texting while driving is so dangerous that it has replaced drunk driving as the leading cause of death in teenagers. While all states have outlawed drunk driving, 78 percent of states have passed laws that make it illegal to text while driving. About 1.3 million crashes were caused in 2011 by people texting while driving. Likewise, there were 9,296 fatalities caused by drunk drivers in the same year. With the gap between the two closing, it is becoming increasingly important that focus is directed to texting while driving as well as drunk driving to encourage safety.
Young adults and teens are by far the most common drivers who will text while behind the wheel. Education has also been shown to reduce the probability that a driver will text while driving. The same is true with drunk driving, where organizations like MAAD have campaigned for years to increase awareness of alcohol's dangers. Especially among younger people, those who lack a sufficient education in the dangers of texting while driving are much more likely to engage in the behavior. Additionally, men are more likely to text while behind the wheel than women. The least likely group to text while driving is elderly people, although they are also the least likely to be driving in the first place.
Beyond just texting, other distracted driving activities can also be dangerous while on the road. For example, talking on the phone while behind the wheel can quadruple the risk of getting in an accident. In fact, dialing a number has been found to be 30 percent more dangerous than even texting itself. Although some drivers justify this by dialing at traffic lights, the same could be said about taking a drink at a light as well. Once the number has been dialed, there will be long-term consequences as drivers slowly finished the call. As drunk driving statistics have revealed, it is important that the brain is fully focused on the road at all times to minimize fatalities. This is especially true today, where devices are widely available for browsing the internet or checking email while in the car.
It is more important than ever for drivers to understand that paying attention to the road will lead to safety. When drivers are distracted, they can expect to put themselves and others in danger. Much like drunk driving, this can cause drivers to swerve and have a much slower reaction time. Drivers who are educated about the dangers of texting while behind the wheel will be much more likely to avoid the behavior. In contrast, drivers who are uninformed about the dangers or simply neglect to heed the warnings will cause hundreds of thousands of accidents each year.
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