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Driving Distracted — More Common Than Driving Drunk?

Texting and Driving—More Prevalent than Drinking and Driving?

Here are some startling statistics:

  • In 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 3,300 people died in motor vehicle accidents involving a distracted driver. In the same year, just under 10,000 people were killed nationwide by drunk drivers.
  • The average amount of time it takes to send or read a text message is nearly five seconds, about the same amount of time it takes to stop a vehicle traveling 60 miles per hour. In fact, in a study in Virginia, researchers found that truck drivers who sent or received text messages while behind the wheel increased their risk of accident and injury by almost 25%. Studies also corroborate that sending a text message while driving can increase reaction time by one third to one half.
  • The reaction time for someone sending a text message was actually worse than that of a drunk driver, in a study conducted by Car and Driver magazine.
  • Adults are worse about texting and driving than younger drivers. Almost half of all adults asked admitted to sending text messages while on the road. Just over 2 of every five teenagers are guilty of texting and driving.

In another study initiated by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, during the same time period (2009-2012), while there was a 20% drop in the number of drivers who admitted they would think about drinking and driving, there was an increase in the number of drivers who admitted texting, as well as a decrease in the number of people who thought texting or e-mailing while driving was a bad thing.

The Car and Driver study was conducted on a runway at the Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport in Michigan, with a 22 year-old using and iPhone and a 37 year-old driver on a Samsung Alias. For both drivers, their average reaction time was significantly greater while texting or reading an e-mail than it was when they were impaired. In fact, for the 37 year-old driver, the reaction time was at least double in both instances.

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