While most drivers are aware of the dangers inherent in drinking and driving, recent studies suggest that texting while driving can be even worse. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,154 fatalities and 424,000 injuries resulted from distracted driving in 2013. This is less than one-third of the 10,076 deaths attributed to drunk driving during the same year. However, these statistics do not tell the full story regarding the comparative risks of drunk driving and driving while texting. For those who have been injured or who have lost loved ones due to the reckless actions of others, retaining the services of a qualified Houston auto wreck attorney can be the best way to achieve a fair settlement for these losses. Increased Reaction Times A study conducted by Car and Driver Magazine compared the reaction times for four separate groups of drivers to determine how long it took for them to brake when presented with a red light.
- The control group of sober drivers with no distractions took an average of just over half a second to brake.
- Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 required four additional feet to stop.
- Individuals driving while reading an email required 36 feet more than the control group to come to a complete stop.
- Texting drivers performed worst of all groups and needed 70 feet more than the control group to stop their vehicles.
Another study conducted by London’s Transport Research Laboratory indicated that texting could significantly reduce the ability of younger drivers to react to dangers on the road. Drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 were evaluated on their ability to react to simulated dangers under specific circumstances:
- Drunk drivers reacted 12 percent slower than sober, non-distracted drivers.
- Drivers under the influence of marijuana exhibited reaction times 21 percent slower than the control group.
- The reaction times for texting drivers were 35 percent slower than for the control group.
These results indicate that driving while texting can be just as dangerous as drunk driving in some situations. While some drivers may slow down to read or respond to texts, they are still at risk of running red lights or failing to observe obstacles in their path. This can often lead to tragic results. State Laws May Not Be Enough The NHTSA notes that 46 states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books prohibiting text messaging while driving. In most states, these are primary laws that can result in a citation even in the absence of other driving infractions. Many drivers continue to text or email while behind the wheel despite these laws, however; a 2014 Time poll found that 75 percent of drivers admitted to texting while driving. Reasons for this negligent behavior may include some or all of the following:
- Lack of consistent enforcement of anti-texting laws
- Perceived urgency of texting communications
- Failure to consider the potential consequences
- Overconfidence in the ability to track activity on the road while texting
Greater public awareness of the risks and consequences of distracted driving can help drivers avoid this activity and stay safer on Texas streets and highways. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed by a distracted driver, consulting with a Houston auto accident attorney can be the most effective way to ensure fair compensation for the losses, injuries and damages caused by these car crashes. An experienced Houston personal injury attorney can negotiate with insurers to provide you with the best possible settlement. If a reasonable compensation offer cannot be reached, these dedicated lawyers will take your case to court and present compelling evidence to ensure the largest award possible for your case. This can help to publicize the issue of distracted driving while providing valuable closure for you and your family.