Monday, May 23, 2016

Which Is More Dangerous: Texting/Distracted Driving Or Drunk Driving?

According to Car And Driver Magazine, texting while driving is WAY more dangerous than drunk driving. Here's how Car And Driver set up the test:

Rigging a car with a red light to alert drivers when to brake, the magazine tested how long it takes to hit the brake when sober, when legally drunk at .08, when reading and e-mail, and when sending a text. The results are scary. Driving 70 miles per hour on a deserted air strip Car and Driver editor Eddie Alterman was slower and slower reacting and braking when e-mailing and texting.
The results:

  • Unimpaired: .54 seconds to brake
  • Legally drunk: add 4 feet
  • Reading e-mail: add 36 feet
  • Sending a text: add 70 feet

This may come as a surprise to some, but it makes sense from a perception/reaction standpoint. 

But it is not the SOLE reason why distracted driving is more dangerous than drunk driving.

The real reason why testing/fooling with your phone is more dangerous than drunk driving dawned on me the other day on one of those numbing drive home commutes. Every single day, I see drivers looking at their phones while driving. If I kept score during any given week, the count would  probably reach the hundreds.

This made me want to do some digging, so I called Mr. Google for help (what did we do before Google and why do our kids use their smartphones for everything BUT a Google search?--sorry for going off topic...).

 How many adults in The U.S. own smartphones? A Staggering 225 million.  Licensed drivers? 210 million. Number of drunk driving incidents last year? 121 million (how pathetic is that?)

From a sheer numbers standpoint, the number of drivers with smartphones significantly outweighs the numbers of drivers who choose to drink and drive. Can we infer from the data that the opportunity to access our phones while driving is significantly greater than the circumstances that lead to drunk driving?

I'm no statistician but I know what I see with my own eyes. And that is a public driving like a bunch of bobble heads, constantly looking up and down and glancing in stealth like fashion. I generally go to bed fairly early, but I can't remember the last time I saw someone driving impaired.   

Our technological advances have been staggering over the last decade, and the distracted driving phenomenon is one of the many byproducts. Until we develop the technology to disable the onslaught of information we receive while driving, distracted driving is going to continue to take a heavy toll on our collective safety.

In essence, we've become intoxicated by a new drug--our phones.