Texting while driving raises crash risk by 23 times – Ban it now!

July 28, 2009

Texting while driving raises crash risk by 23 times - Ban it now!Driving is an activity that most of us do, and which most of us do well. But even the best drivers still need to focus on the job in hand or risk causing an accident and possibly death and destruction. Drinking and driving is obviously frowned upon in all sensible counties, but texting while driving, which can be just as dangerous, isn’t treated as harshly.

I’m usually of the opinion that the government should let us all get on with our own lives, with none of the nanny state mentality that has become prevalent in the last 50 years. However, when an activity some people are partaking in is affecting others, and putting their lives at risk, it’s clearly then time to step in and use the law as a protective precaution.

Texting while driving, and the dangers it causes to other road users, is a hot topic because only 14 U.S. states have currently banned the practice. Which means that in the vast majority of America, drivers can quite happily drive their car and text on their cell phone at the same time and not be punished if caught doing so.

The dangers of texting while driving have been studied and reported for a while now. In September 2008 a British study concluded that texting while driving was actually more dangerous than drinking and driving. And in June of this year a similar study in the States reached the same conclusion.

Now, according to The New York Times, the results of a full 18-month study of lorry drivers have just been released. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute fitted cameras inside the cabs of long-distance lorry drivers to see what effect texting while driving had in a real-world experience.

The study found that drivers typically spend five seconds looking at their cellphone prior to an accident or near-collision. Which is enough time for them to have traversed more than the length of a football field. What’s more, drivers who text while driving were found to have a 23 times greater than normal risk of crashing when doing so.

Tom Dingus, director of the Virginia Tech institute said the results of the study send a clear and unequivocal message that, “You should never do this, it should be illegal.” I couldn’t agree more and I find it hard to understand why something isn’t being done of a national or even international level to outlaw this clearly stupid activity.

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5 Responses to “Texting while driving raises crash risk by 23 times – Ban it now!”

  1. DavidB:

    My state (Virginia) took a baby step in the right direction as of July 1, but unfortunately it is only a “secondary offense”. In other words, you can only get in trouble for texting if you do something ELSE illegal, like run a stop sign or change lanes without signal or (God forbid) crash into someone else.
    I really doubt understand why we even need new laws in the first place though. Enforce the laws we have. Why are our law enforcement and judicial system so chicken shxt to charge and prosecute talkers and texters? Failure to pay “full time and attention” is already “illegal” in every state with no new laws required.

  2. a non e mous:

    As a paramedic who regularly deals with the consequences of inattentive driving, I couldn’t agree with you more, DavidB.

    Unfortunately, however, your nation is the home of a legal culture that perpetuates the “It’s Not My Fault ” mentality, where it is possible to explore every single avenue of diverting blame away from oneself, no matter what the offence, or how blatantly responsible one is for what happened.

    As an example, witness the strange perversion of justice that occurred when OJ Simpson’s murder trial got railroaded sideways into a debate about racial prejudice. It seems that if you have deep enough pockets, you can buy your way out of attributible guilt.

    I wish my part of the world (Australia) was immune to that culture but unfortunately it isn’t, and it’s getting worse all the time.

    So, sadly, it is necessary to specify new offences such as cellphone use while driving to ensure that clever lawyers don”t allow culprits to escape via a loophole or a technicality.

    And there are some people who are so dumb that they don’t realise something may be dangerous until the act becomes illegal.

  3. clee:

    Driving while distracted is quickly becoming a problem on the roads and the studies all seem to point to just how dangerous it is. But I’m not convinced that legislation is the answer to the problem. I think there needs to be more of a PR campaign to change people’s attitudes about texting/talking while driving. How do we reconcile the need for safety on the road with the increased need to be connected to our phones 24/7 and available to work remotely at any time?

    We’ve been discussing this topic on our blog, please check us out: http://uimagicinc.com/blog/ I’m sure you would all have lots of good comments to share!

  4. Random:

    If its illegal to talk on the phone (which, i personally dont see why, but at the same time i do, it doesnt affect me when im talking on the phone since i drive with one hand most the time, the hardest part is calling while driving, which can be done at stop lights, once im talking, im perfectly normal on the road if not better at times), Though im only 1 in so many.

    If its illegal to talk on the phone while driving, there is no reason txt while driving should be legal, since its much worse than talking on the phone, i try to do txt while driving at times, but i find it hard to do so with out swurving too much, so i tend to do txt while driving in slow traffic, (5-25mph at best), or stop signs/lights.

    if theres one thing my parents pounded in me through out my life when driving, if you have to hit something, either A) go for the ditch, or B) go for the cheapest car and try not to make contact where another person is sitting. So i wouldnt do something if i didnt feel safe about it.

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