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Study Shows Driving While Texting More Dangerous Than DUI

You are a good driver. You would not think of getting behind the wheel of your car after you have been drinking or on medication that would impair your abilities. But you may not have considered the risks of texting while driving. According to an experiment by Car and Driver magazine, texting while driving is more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol.

Putting it to the Test

The magazine tested two of its staff while driving vehicles at 70 miles per hour. One employee was tested while he had a blood alcohol content of .08, legally drunk in most states. The other was tested while texting. The impaired driver was able to stop his vehicle within four feet of his performance while sober. Driver #2 tried braking while reading a text. His vehicle stopped 36 feet beyond where he stopped when not distracted. Not convinced? Next he tried stopping while sending a text. About 319 feet later, his vehicle finally came to a stop. Be happy that you were not in a crosswalk in front of this guy.

Drivers Underestimate Risk

Unfortunately, most Americans don not seem to comprehend the danger. Recent surveys reveal that 66 percent of us admit to texting while driving. Yet 89 percent believe that it should be banned. Apparently, it is just the other guy who is dangerous while texting. Legislation really has not caught up with the danger of distracted driving yet either. Texting while driving is banned in only 42 states. Using a hand-held cell phone while driving is illegal in only 30 states.

Experience can be a harsh teacher. Although laws against drunk driving began appearing before the turn of the century, the public's attitude toward the practice did not turn negative until the early 80s. Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) successfully pushed for tougher sentences for drunk drivers, and society's tolerance of drunk driving waned.

Distracted driving due to texting appears to be heading down the same path. Increasing fatalities due to texting in vehicles are already on the horizon. Although no official studies have been performed to date, some prior statistics are chilling. Harvard University estimated that 2,600 deaths were caused by cell phone usage in 2002. Yet texting while driving is 17 times more dangerous than just talking on a cell phone, according a Virginia Tech study, and was an almost unknown technology in 2002.

If you are injured by a distracted driver, contact a competent personal injury attorney in your area.

Los Angeles Times