Driving While Texting (DWT)

A recent survey by the Texas Transportation Institute found that 52% of drivers in Texas would support a law banning mobile phone usage while driving. Additionally, about 85% of Texas drivers felt that texting or talking while driving is worse than it was just five years ago. The survey included nearly 1200 licensed drivers and was conducted at 10 different driver license stations operated by Texas DPS in September and October of this year.

In Texas, roadway deaths are down about 17% over the past five years (from 3,699 in 2004 to 3,089 in 2009). Despite these numbers, the use of mobile phones and other handheld devices has grown exponentially. In fact, there are a growing number of reports that are scientifically concluding that texting and emailing while driving are far more dangerous than intoxicated drivers. For instance, Car and Driver Magazine tested brake reaction times in subjects that were sober, legally drunk, reading email, and sending a text. The results are frightening:

  • Unimpaired individual: .54 seconds to brake
  • Legally drunk: add 4 feet
  • Reading an email: add 36 feet
  • Sending a text: add 70 feet

Most Americans would probably view drinking and driving as wrong; however, when it comes to texting and driving – we do not seem as outraged. This seems to be the general sentiment, even though it does not take any logical leap of faith to understand and see that driving while texting is just as dangerous, or worse. Perhaps this feeling is due to the fact that so many of us do use our phones while operating our vehicles. Unfortunately, it will likely take many more accidents and more deaths caused by texting drivers to change the attitude towards this risky behavior. In any event, beware while driving next to the teeny-bopper who cannot stop staring at his or her mobile phone – the evidence is showing that it is just as dangerous as drinking and driving.