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Is Texting While Driving More Dangerous Than Drunk Driving?

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Texting While Driving Versus DUI – Which is More Dangerous?

Texting While Driving Versus DUI – Which is More Dangerous?

Nov 5, 2021

It’s no secret that distracted driving is extremely dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,142 people were killed in 2019 as a result of distracted drivers (up from 2,841 deaths in 2018). But despite national campaigns, PSAs, and even laws intended to crack down on distracted drivers, the problem persists – particularly texting while driving.

That said, most people may not realize how dangerous an act like texting while driving actually is (and how much it increases your risk for being involved in a car accident).

Below we will look at some key distracted driving statistics, review the dangers of texting while driving, and discuss how it compares with another well-known danger – drunk driving. We’ll also provide information on how to file a civil claim in pursuit of financial compensation in the event of an unfortunate distracted driving car accident injury.

Statistics on the Distracted/Texting While Driving Problem

Texting while driving has been described as an epidemic in the U.S. Data provided by various sources including Carsurance.net highlights some truly startling statistics related to the scope of the texting while driving problem:

  • 20% of U.S. drivers reported sending emails or text messages while on the road.
  • In 2018, the number of deaths related to cell phone use in car accidents was 4,637.
  • Almost 390,000 injuries occur annually in the U.S. due to texting while driving.
  • 25% of all U.S. motor vehicle collisions involve the use of a cell phone.
  • 11 teenagers die daily due to texting while driving.
  • In 2015, 40% of teens who had used a car in the past 30 days reported texting while driving.
  • When using a cell phone behind the wheel, a teenager has the same reaction time as a 70-year-old.
  • The drivers who text most frequently include those ages 25 to 39 followed by those 40 to 59.
  • USA Today confirms that 43% of teens and 49% of adults text and drive.
  • Consulting firm McKinsey estimates that at least 35% of people admit to using cell phones while driving (though the actual figure is believed to be much higher).
  • The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that at least 1.6 million car accidents occur annually as a result of drivers texting and using cell phones.
  • Your risk of being involved in a car accident is increased by 400% when using a cell phone without a hands-free device while driving.
  • A report from AAA found that crash rates were five times (500%) higher for distracted drivers than for undistracted drivers.
  • Distracted driving causes 35% more injuries than drunk driving.

Despite the prevalence of texting while driving and other distracted behaviors behind the wheel, 92% of drivers support state laws that would ban texting and driving. In California, AB 47 was passed and took effect on July 1, 2021. The bill allows law enforcement officials to hand down penalties such as points on a driver’s license for repeat texting while driving offenses.

Dangers of Texting While Driving

Dangers of Texting While Driving

One of the most cited studies examining the problem and dangers of texting while driving was conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech University’s Transportation Institute in 2009. The landmark study observed drivers over the course of a reported 6 million miles on the road.

The study included both light vehicle drivers and truck drivers. The following findings were confirmed:

  • Manual manipulation of phones such as dialing and texting of the cell phone lead to a substantial increase in the risk of being involved in a safety-critical event such as a crash or near-crash.
  • Text messaging on a cell phone was associated with the highest risk of all cell phone-related tasks.
  • Talking or listening increased risk much less for light vehicles and not at all for trucks.

The texting/distracted driving risks identified through the Virginia Tech study included:

For light vehicles or cars:

  • Dialing a cell phone made the risk of crash or near-crash event 2.8 times as high as non-distracted driving.
  • Talking or listening to a cell phone made the risk of crash or near-crash event 1.3 times as high as non-distracted driving.
  • Reaching for an object such as an electronic device made the risk of crash or near-crash event 1.4 times as high as non-distracted driving.

For heavy vehicles or trucks:

  • Dialing a cell phone made the risk of crash or near-crash event 5.9 times as high as non-distracted driving.
  • Talking or listening to a cell phone made the risk of crash or near-crash event 1.0 times as high as non-distracted driving.
  • Use of, or reach for, an electronic device made the risk of crash or near-crash event 6.7 times as high as non-distracted driving.
  • Text messaging made the risk of crash or near-crash event 23.2 times as high as non-distracted driving.

Claims of Texting and Driving Being 6x More Dangerous Than Drunk Driving are Actually False

Given recent catastrophic crash events and disturbing trends, there is an alarming amount of misinformation and confusion regarding cell phone and texting use while behind the wheel of a vehicle. Our research findings can help begin to clear up these misconceptions as it is based on real-world driving data. We conduct transportation safety research in an effort to equip the public with information that can save lives,” Tom Dingus, director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, said shortly after the study was published.

Before you text and drive, keep in mind that, as confirmed by the Virginia Tech study, your risk of being involved in a car accident is over 23 times higher than a non-distracted driver.

Is Texting While Driving as Dangerous as Drunk Driving (DUI)?

Is Texting While Driving as Dangerous as Drunk Driving (DUI)?

The commonly cited statistic that texting and driving while traveling at 55 miles per hour takes the driver’s eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds (the equivalent of driving a football field blindfolded) was provided through the aforementioned Virginia Tech study. And while some have suggested that texting and driving is indeed as dangerous (if not more) as driving drunk, certain statistics found online are not accurate.

True or False: Texting and Driving is 6 Times More Dangerous Than Drunk Driving/DUI?

Many websites will cite the statistic that texting and driving is six times more likely to cause car accidents when compared to drunk driving. Some attribute the statistic to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), while others cite the National Safety Council (NSC). But neither of those organizations’ websites confirm the “six times more likely” claim.

Nevertheless, there’s no denying that texting while driving is extremely dangerous. But whether or not it’s six times as dangerous as drunk driving remains to be seen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, offer some confirmed data comparing texting while driving to drunk driving.

A CDC study utilized a high-fidelity driving simulator to compare the performance of cell phone drivers with drivers who were intoxicated from ethanol (i.e., blood alcohol concentration at 0.08% weight/volume). The findings were quite alarming:

  • Drivers that were conversing on either a handheld or hands-free cell phone saw their braking reactions delayed.
  • Cell phone drivers were involved in more traffic accidents than when they were not conversing on a cell phone.
  • By contrast, when drivers were intoxicated from ethanol they exhibited a more aggressive driving style, following closer to the vehicle immediately in front of them and applying more force while braking.

Schedule an appointment online for a free consultation today, or call us directly to speak to our top-rated, expert car accident attorneys.

In conclusion, the CDC study found that when “driving conditions and time on task were controlled for, the impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as profound as those associated with driving while drunk.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit After a Texting and Driving Car Accident

Were you injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver? Whether the at-fault party was texting, changing the stereo, or simply talking to another passenger and therefore distracted, the experienced car accident lawyers at Dordulian Law Group (DLG) are here to fight for your right to maximum financial compensation.

If you’ve been injured by a texting driver, you should not be responsible for the ensuing financial losses, such as hospital and medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. DLG’s Car Accident Division is led by former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Sam Dordulian. With more than 25 years of personal injury expertise, Dordulian and his team have helped inured car accident victims like you recover over $100 million in settlements and verdicts.

What Damages are Recoverable After a Texting While Driving Car Accident?

Filing a personal injury civil claim after a texting while driving car accident can be a means of recovering financial compensation for various types of damages. Some common damages that may be obtained after a texting while driving car accident injury include:

  • Hospital and medical bills
  • Physical therapy expenses
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Emotional trauma
  • Reduced quality of life

DLG’s experienced and proven car accident lawyers are available 24/7. We’ll fight aggressively to recover the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your texting while driving car accident injury.

To arrange for a free, confidential, and no obligation with a Dordulian Law Group Los Angeles car accident attorney, contact us online or by phone at 818-322-4056.


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