Study Confirms Texting and Driving is Just as Dangerous as Drunk Driving

Auto accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm highlight the significance of these findings. Specifically, the study found that texting while driving is as dangerous as driving with a BAC of .10, which is almost twice the legal limit. Published in Traffic Injury Prevention, researchers from several universities participated in the study.

Using a simulation test, participants used either a mobile phone or consumed alcohol while driving as scientists studied their behavior. Those using a mobile phone first wore headphones equipped with a microphone to mimic the ‘hands-free’ effect, and the drinkers were required to have a BAC above the legal limit.

Their findings confirmed that those driving while having a ‘hands-free’ conversation had the same driving skills as someone driving well below the legal alcohol limit. When their conversations become more involved, and therefore required more of their attention, their skills were comparable to someone driving with a .07 BAC, which is just one point from the legal limit.

Alarmingly, when participants were texting on the mobiles while driving, they drove comparably to someone driving with a .10 BAC. Scientists acknowledged that much more research needs to be done to determine how mobile devices should be regulated while operating a vehicle. Federal and state authorities need to have comprehensive information regarding the pros and cons of using mobile devices ‘hands-free’ before any further legislation is proposed.

Several companies are currently developing programs to prevent drivers from texting while driving. For example, AT&T announced in 2012 that it would challenge phone makers, such as Samsung and Apple, to work with it to implement anti-text-and-drive software, to be pre-loaded on all smartphones. AT&T also initiated an “It Can Wait” campaign, using commercials and other marketing tactics to urge drivers to stop the dangerous practice.

There is currently an app available to all smartphone owners intended to keep distracted drivers from using their mobile devices. Called the Canary Project, the app costs $9.99 and may be downloaded on up to 10 smartphones per purchase. The Canary Project sends alerts about the driver’s mobile use while on the road, so parents will know if their children are texting, surfing the internet, talking, or otherwise using their phone while driving. The app also alerts parents when a driver is violating curfew or travels into certain areas.

An application like this could have prevented a recent catastrophic Texas crash, which was caused by a man who was texting while driving. The man, 21-year-old Chance Bothe, sent a message shortly before the crash to his friend, saying “I need to stop before I have a wreck and kill myself.” A few moments later, his truck veered off the road and crashed into a 20-foot ravine.

Bothe was hospitalized for seven months, suffering from a broken leg, ankles, ribs, sternum, neck, nose, a punctured lung, crushed eye sockets, fractured skull, and crushed forehead. He is planning on taking his message to high schools throughout Texas.

Although Americans age 15 to 24 represent about 14% of the population, they are responsible for 30% of motor vehicle injuries in males and 28% among females. Drivers age 16 to 19 are three times more likely than the average driver to be killed in a crash.

The second weekend of March 2013 alone killed 11 teens – five in Texas and six in Ohio. Unfortunately, in the Ohio crash, none of the teens in the packed SUV were wearing seatbelts. Teenagers have the lowest rates of any age group of wearing seatbelts, and have the highest rates of speeding. Some parents are attempting to offset this by installing webcams in the rear-view mirrors of their children’s cars; others are equipping their vehicles with technology that tracks the driver’s habits.

Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm affirm that, in 2009, distracted driving was the causative factor in more than 5,400 traffic fatalities, and an astounding 448,000 injuries. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation, and should contact a skilled attorney who will inform you of your legal options.

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