Drunk Driving is Safer than Texting and Driving?
by Garrison Wynn, CSP
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Safety communication tip: Here are two powerful questions to help people get real about the dangers of driving while texting.
- If you had an accident while texting and driving, would it prevent you from texting while driving in the future?
- If your answer is yes, then is that what you are waiting for?
Drunk Driving is Safer than Texting and Driving?
We think it’s a message for young, inexperienced drivers: “Don’t text while driving.” But I suspect that adults text behind the wheel as much as younger drives do. According to a 2012 survey by AT&T, almost half (49%) of the adult respondents admitted to recently texting while driving, compared with 43% of teen respondents.
Let’s acknowledge what’s happening: people text and drive all the time. And it’s not just kids; it’s everybody.
Many people believe it’s harmless to text or to process emails at stoplights. They think, “I’m not in motion, so I’ll just read a text or knock out a response before the light changes.” But if that many people do it at stoplights, let’s be honest: There’s some stoplight spillover going on. Without a doubt, drivers are typing and reading while in motion.
So exactly how dangerous is it to read and type while you’re driving? I think it’s extremely dangerous. In 2011, the CDC reported 387,000 injuries – and nearly 10 deaths daily – from distracted driving, which includes texting, emailing, talking on the phone, and more. Those statistics reflect only the reported distractions. How often do we not know the distractions involved? How many incidents might involve a driver who is both alcohol impaired and distracted?
An enlightening test by Car and Driver in 2009 showed significantly slower reaction times in drivers who were reading or texting, as compared with the same drivers when alcohol impaired. My guess is that when you’re impaired, you at least try to focus on holding the steering wheel and keeping the car on the road. Your brain is actually in your vehicle trying to survive your trip.
But if you’re texting, your brain is out the window. You’re not in your vehicle mentally! You’re outside your vehicle having a conversation with somebody else. That’s where the danger is. You’ve taken your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off of driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calls that distraction. I call it the kiss of death. Or at least the kiss of car bumpers.
I’m not saying that drinking and driving is safer than texting and driving. I’m telling you it’s looking really close to the same thing. So if you’re the kind of person who believes you shouldn’t drink and drive, then you shouldn’t text and drive either.
And why do so many of us engage in an activity that could be so damaging? In this multimedia, multitasking age, younger drivers have grown up with distraction. Adult drivers who didn’t grow up with it have certainly adapted to it. We’re a distracted society! Even worse, we’ve somehow determined that this life of distraction is acceptable – or even admirable, if we slap the word “multitasking” on it. We think, “I’m accomplishing twice as much,” but we’re doing it half as well. Sometimes that measured risk is OK, but behind the wheel it is not. When it comes to safety, multitasking has a poor track record. I think we should go back to something called “focus on the task.” And when you’re behind the wheel, the sole task that requires your focus is a little something called driving.
On the German Autobahn, drivers moving at speeds of 150 mph have fewer accidents than drivers in the States at much slower speeds. In large part, that’s because on the Autobahn they do one thing only. They drive. In Germany, mobile phone use is forbidden while the vehicle’s motor is running. It’s even rare to find a cup holder in a German car. It’s obvious the Germans don’t want you drinking, dialing or texting; they want you to put your hands on the wheel and drive!
It turns out that driving (even at high speeds) is not all that dangerous; it’s driving and doing other things. How important are those things? Do you really need to answer that call, check that email, or reply to that text instantly? Admittedly, we live in an age of immediacy, which means we’ll have to resist the urge to answer those texts right away. They can wait. Most likely, the person on the other end of your conversation would much rather read your delayed response than your obituary.
How safe is reading and typing while driving? That’s the question you need to ask yourself. The answer? Not a bit. I hope you’ll join the movement against texting while driving by reminding your coworkers and loved ones: a smart phone is not a license for dumb behavior behind the wheel!
Garrison Wynn, CSP, is a nationally known speaker, best-selling author, and chemical plant explosion survivor who has developed safety products still being sold in 30 countries. Article Source: http://www.motivational-speaker-success.com/texting-driving.htm