Texting Vs. DUI
In January 2012, an 18-year-old student at Utah State University was killed in a fatal car accident that occurred on I-84 near Mountain Home, Idaho. It was later revealed that the student had updated her Facebook status while operating her 2004 Saturn VUE at highway speeds near 75 miles per hour. Lt. Sheldon Kelley of the Idaho State Police, who responded to the scene, stated that the driver struck a slow moving semi and was hit again by a second truck minutes before 9:00 p.m.
Texting While Driving A Growing Problem
Texting while driving is a growing problem that plagues a large percentage of the population. Although most people don’t condone texting while driving, it hasn’t stopped all drivers from picking up their phones and sending a quick text from behind the wheel. If texting while driving doesn’t seem dangerous enough, the hazard of picking up a cell phone or electronic gadget can be exacerbated by many conditions, including icy roads and foul weather. In the most recent fatal texting accident involving the USU student, officials stated that the tanker truck in front of the student’s vehicle was operating at slow speeds due to the grade of the road.
Drivers need to increase their awareness of road conditions and the actions of other drivers continuously. Focusing undivided attention on the road is essential to anticipate sudden stops and starts, hazardous conditions and unpredictable actions. Concentrating on sending a text or updating social media sites is a risk that drivers shouldn’t take even in clear conditions.
Dangers of Texting While Driving
According to statistics from IcyRoadSafety.com, more than 458 individuals were involved in fatal accidents due to icy road conditions in 2009. This number pales in comparison to the 448,000 injuries and 5,400 fatal crashes caused by distracted driving the same year.
When research organizations studied the effects of texting while driving, the dangers became even more apparent. According to Car and Driver, texting dramatically delays reaction times. The auto magazine found that individuals who texted while driving on a dry, paved surface waited nearly one second longer before reacting to a lead car’s brake lights compared to the study baseline. This non-scientific study from Car and Driver found that drivers with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent responded twice as fast in the same situation. The University of Utah confirmed that texting while operating a vehicle is twice as dangerous as driving drunk. However, penalties for texting while driving are significantly lower than those for operating a vehicle while under the influence.
According to Men’s Health, texting is the single most dangerous thing drivers can do. When your cell phone rings, pull into a parking area, or wait until reaching your destination before responding. Texting while driving is never worth the potential risks to you or anyone else on the road.