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Texting while driving more dangerous than drinking and driving

Droids, crackberrys and iPhones, oh my!
With all the unbelievable phones, plans, and offers cell phone companies now have, it’s no wonder that texting seems to have taken over as the main form of communication.
Texting makes everything so simple. It takes just a few seconds to send a text as opposed to calling someone who may or may not answer. With how simple texting is, it makes it that much more tempting to text while driving. However, the only temptation we should have from our phone while driving is the vocal collaboration of a popular ‘60s band as a ringtone. It may seem harmless, but it’s become such a problem that it’s been banned in 19 states. Additionally, the National Safety Council estimates that about 28 percent of all crashes can be attributed to drivers talking and texting while driving. FYI: that’s 1.6 million crashes per year.
If that isn’t enough incentive not to text while driving, maybe a study by Car and Driver magazine will put things in perspective for you.
The magazine conducted a study on the reaction times of three groups of drivers: those who were sober, those who were legally intoxicated, and those who were texting. The times were based upon the reaction to a light mounted on the windshield at eye level. After seeing the light, the driver was supposed to hit the brakes as if they were in traffic. This process was repeated five times, and the slowest time was dropped.
In the test, two men, ages 22 and 37, participated. The results were quite alarming. At 35 mph, the younger participant, Brown, traveled an extra four feet when texting and an extra six feet when he was reading a text before braking. After having a few drinks and reaching the legal driving limit of 0.08 percent blood alcohol content, Brown traveled only one extra foot before braking. (This test did not include the use of a cell phone.)
The older participant, Alterman, traveled an extra 45 feet when reading a text and an extra 41 feet when texting, but only an extra seven feet when impaired.
This simulation was on a straight closed course that had no pedestrians, road signs, or traffic signals. Imagine how much worse the results could have been. We’ve all grown up on the notion that drinking and driving is such a terrible thing to do. The National Safety Council attributes about 40 percent of all vehicle crashes to still involve alcohol even though numbers have dropped in recent years. That’s only a 12 percent difference from texting while driving.
While this certainly is not condoning drinking and driving, it does show how dangerous texting and driving can be. We’ve all been there, done that, and even gotten the T-shirt. It may seem harmless, but think about the pedestrian walkways that don’t have flashing lights. Think about all the times you’ve slammed on the brakes with your phone in hand. And how many times have you gotten aggravated at a traffic light when someone doesn’t immediately accelerate as soon as the light turns green, only to find out they were texting?
People will still drink and drive, just as people will always text and drive. However, we can be the ones to help decrease the numbers and put the phone down before we injure ourselves or someone else.

This editorial was written by Crissie Elrick (cmelrick@valdosta.edu) and it expresses the opinion of the entire editorial staff.

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One comment

  1. With 39 States having “No Phone or Texting While Driving” Laws in effect by October 1, 2010 you can save yourself the embarrassment and humiliation by getting a new HandsFree way to make phone calls and texting while driving assistance from “Kylee” your new Virtual Assistant provided here.

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