I’m not one much for the soapbox… however, a current topic has me… well… slightly freaked. As a bicyclist, a dad, a member of the community and someone who manages a group of people who fixes cars and sees the results of accidents, I want to share some new research that is pretty simple and clear: texting is the most dangerous driver distraction – handily beating driving while under the influence.
What Every Driver Should Know
A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, along with prior studies by Liberty Mutual Insurance and state-funded organizations located online, reveal the sobering statistics of texting behind the wheel:
- Texting while driving increases the risk of accident 23.2 times over unimpaired driving.
- Texting while driving results in longer response times than even drunken driving. While an unimpaired driver can respond quickly to changes in traffic and begin braking within half a second, a legally drunk driver needs four additional feet to begin braking—and a driver who’s texting needs 70.
- In the moments before a crash or near crash, drivers typically spend nearly five seconds looking at their mobile devices—enough time at typical highway speeds to cover more area than the length of a football field.
- Though 95 percent of drivers surveyed said texting behind the wheel was unacceptable and unsafe, at least 21 percent admit to doing it anyway.
- Especially amongst teens, texting results in erratic driving behavior, like lane weaving and speeding up and down, increasing the likelihood of hurting pedestrians and running into other vehicles.
- Texting behind the wheel is generational: over half of those aged 16 to 19 admit to texting while driving, 45.1% of drivers 20 to 24, 38.7% of 25 to 34 year olds, compared to 6.4 percent of 35 to 44 year olds, and 1.7 percent of 45 to 64 year olds.
- An accident can happen in two to three seconds while texting.
What’s in a Pledge?
A nudge can be a powerful thing and we especially feel this way toward texting. Why not have ourselves or our teens make a pledge to not text while driving – a personal pledge that puts a little skin in the game?
We happen to be fans of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and several episodes ago they helped the family of Alex Brown – a Texas teenager who died in a car accident. Focusing on teens in high school, Alex’s parents have created a website dedicated to ‘DNT TXT N DRV’. Click here http://www.rememberalexbrownfoundation.org
to have your teen take the pledge. For others, Oprah has a different site, ‘Oprahs’s No Phone Zone’ and you can sign the pledge by going to her site at Oprah.com.
Without a nod to either show or TV personality, a simple commitment can go a long way. With discipline, just saying “no” can actually work.
Resist the Urge Says NJ and many Other States
At the time of this writing, New Jersey, twenty-nine other states and the District of Columbia have passed laws that make texting while driving illegal.
New Jersey is currently moving forward with bill S-2181 which doubles the fine for using a hand-held electronic device from $100 to $200. The second offense is increased to $250 – $400 and a third or subsequent offense to between $500 and $600. The bill would also impose a 60-90 day driver’s license suspension for persons convicted of the offense for a third or subsequent time and three motor vehicle penalty points.
Whatever works – a nudge, a real fine or the recognition of the incredible loss that can happen in the blink of an eye, let’s help keep one another safe on the road: don’t text while driving.
Okay, okay… how ‘bout some techie car stuff and new customer comments…?!?