Is Texting While Driving as Dangerous as Drunk Driving?

The good news: Drunk driving fatalities are declining. The bad news: Traffic deaths caused by drivers who are texting are going up. In fact, the National Highway Safety Administration has reported that texting and driving is six times more dangerous than drinking and getting behind the wheel. The National Safety Council adds that texting is responsible for about 1.6 million accidents every year.

It's called distracted driving for a reason. Answering a text takes your attention away from driving for about 5 seconds. At 55 mph (88 km/h), you'll travel 100 yards (91.4 m) in those 5 seconds without once looking at the road. In addition, drivers who text while driving have a 23 percent higher chance of causing a crash. The loss in reaction time is equivalent to drinking four beers before buckling up.

More about texting behind the wheel:

  • Only about 2% of drivers in the US over age 44 will read or send text messages while operating a vehicle. In contrast, about 37% of drivers between the ages of 18 and 27 text and drive.
  • Nearly 300,000 injuries occur each year from texting-and-driving accidents.
  • Of all cell phone activities, texting and driving is by far the most risky. In fact, it's been linked to an astonishing one out of every four car accidents in the US.
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