The Law Blog of Oklahoma

Infographic: Texting v. Drunk Driving

Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2014


We've all heard by now that texting while driving is dangerous. Public Service Announcements decry distracted driving in general and texting while driving in particular. Because texting while driving encompasses three types of distraction--manual, visual, and cognitive--it is one of the deadliest forms of distracted driving there is. This was illustrated all too clearly with the death of 32-year-old Courtney Sanford, who was killed in a single car accident seconds after posting a selfie to Facebook, proclaiming that the song "Happy" by Pharrell made her, well, happy.

The following infographic demonstrates just how dangerous and deadly distracted driving--texting while driving in particular--can be.

Accidental injury is the fifth leading cause of death, and motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of accidental death. They are also the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury. In other words, you are more likely to be injured or killed in a car accident than almost anything else.

So what causes these dangerous accidents? The top causes of wrecks include driver distraction, speeding, driver fatigue, and impairment or intoxication by alcohol or drugs.

The most common type of distraction is simple daydreaming. This may lead to minor fender benders or serious accidents, but other types of distraction can be much more deadly.

Everyone knows that a drunk driver poses a serious threat to other drivers. With impaired judgment, slow reflexes, and erratic driving, a drunk driver can cause a serious DUI accident that leaves catastrophic injury and death in its wake. 

Interestingly enough, the formerly telltale signs of a drunk driver are now the same signs exhibited by a texting driver. Inability to maintain lane position, increased braking distance, judgement and vigilance problems, and a failure to notice traffic signs and signals are some of the dangerous driving behaviors exhibited by both drivers impaired by alcohol and drivers distracted by texting, emailing, or social media.

A Texas A&M Transportation Institute study observed texting while driving behaviors and found some pretty startling results:

  • The reaction time for texting drivers doubled from their reaction time while not texting. The few seconds longer it took for texting drivers to respond is enough to travel the length of four football fields at highway speeds.
  • Texting drivers were 11 times more likely to miss visual cues to signal braking than non-texting drivers.
  • Texting drivers were less likely to be able to maintain a consistent speed or to maintain their lane position than non-texting drivers. Inconsistent speed and an inability to maintain the lane are both NHTSA visual cues for detecting DUI.

A Car and Driver study had similarly startling results. In two test subjects, the reaction time for several factors was compared: not distracted and unimpaired, while reading a text, while composing a text, and while intoxicated. In one driver, the stopping distance for texting and alcohol impairment increased 9 to 11 feet over unimpaired and focused driving. Another subject's results were even more surprising. While his drunk driving stopping distance increased by 4 feet over his normal stopping distance, when sending a text, the stopping distance increased by a staggering 70 feet.

For some reason, many drivers think the dangers of texting while driving apply to everyone except them. Statistics show, however, that no texting driver is a safe driver. Keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your mind on the responsibility of safe and defensive driving.

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