What’s more dangerous than a driver who’s had a few too many drinks? According to a new study, the answer is a driver sending one too many texts.
Statistics reveal that distracted drivers are 23 times more likely to cause accidents than drunk drivers. The startling numbers show that in 2009, 16% of car crash deaths were directly attributable to distracted driving. That’s over 5,000 lives lost because a driver wasn’t paying attention.
Cell phone use, while prevalent in a large number of motor vehicle accidents, is not the only cause of these distractions. Other non-driving activities that have contributed to car crash deaths are eating, talking to passengers, grooming, using a GPS, or changing the radio station. More absurd distractions include reading a book while driving or watching a video on an in-car TV.
While it can be tough to police the more off the wall reasons for distracted driving, cell phone and texting laws are becoming commonplace across the country. Some states require that hands-free devices be used while operating a vehicle, while others have gone so far as to completely ban both hand-held and hands-free devices. The argument has been made that having a conversation while driving, whether holding a phone or not, takes the driver’s attention off of the road.
As technology advances, the distractions only increase. People are almost constantly connected to each other via text messaging, social networks, and video calls, even while on the road. Regardless of the laws in your state, the best advice is to place your undivided attention on the road in front of you. While that funny cat video your college roommate just posted on Facebook might seem important right now, there is nothing more significant than your life.