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This paper examines the leading distracters that are encountered while driving. Specifically, it presents the issue of drunk driving and texting while driving to investigate which of the two distracters causes more accidents on the roads. The study aims to explore the consequences of driving while drunk vis-à-vis texting while driving.
Distracted driving is a major cause of accidents on the international front, with countries around the world having legislation that is aimed at curbing these occurrences (Galeano par.1; Regan, Lee, and Young 3). Bennett confirms how distracted driving results in significant loss of life on the roads. Driving requires one to be attentive to the road and the conditions around him or her. Some of the recognized forms of distracted driving include texting while driving and driving while drunk.
Bennett (1) states that these two forms of distraction are confirmed to be causes of accidents on the road. Improvements in telecommunication and information technology have led to more mobile device users, with this situation being associated with the rise in accidents that are related to drivers who text while behind the wheel. These improvements have also ensured that texting while driving features as a leading cause of accidents associated with distracted driving. This cause has replaced driving while drunk in the top five causes of accidents (“Top 10 Causes of Car Accidents” par. 4). While both forms of distracted driving can be fatal (Bennett 3), most researchers confirm that texting while driving is increasingly becoming common (Gonzales 1).
Drunk driving is one of the forms of distracted driving. It has traditionally been associated with the deaths of thousands of drivers and pedestrians (Lerner 10). Lerner (12) states that many victims of accidents that are associated with drunk driving have also ended up with disabilities. Drivers have often engaged in driving after having a drink or two, with this practice affecting their cognition and judgment (Cline 1). Drinking was the most common form of distracted driving that caused many accidents. Authorities around the world have instituted different measures to curb it.
Alcohol depresses the central nervous system. It also distorts the judgment of individuals who engage in it (“National Distracted Driving” par. 6). The reaction time of drunk drivers is said to be lower than that of sober individuals. This class of drivers has the poor judgment of distances (Olson 14). After an accident, drivers may be subjected to these investigations to establish whether they were drunk at the time an accident occurred.
The risks of fatality are high in driving while drunk, with many deaths on the roads being associated with drivers who engage in driving after having taken some alcohol. Green stated that the number of fatalities from drunk driving alone in 2013 was 2,700. Despite this figure is high, it was second to the number of fatalities occurring because of driving while texting. Therefore, drunk driving is a major cause of fatalities on the highways.
Driving while texting
The 21st century has been widely described as the climax of the communication age. The many available communication devices have made the world a global village. The new-age communication devices have created a new social problem where people are addicted to their use even when they are doing other activities (Green 3). Many individuals have adopted the behavior of using these devices elsewhere. Many individuals around the world have Smartphones. In addition to the texting services, Smartphones provide them with extra access to the internet, social sites, and emailing (Wallace 1). The group that is largely engaged in communication using these gadgets is the young population, and mostly the teenagers (Stiles 3).
Drunk driving is increasingly becoming a common observation in all age groups, with the teenage population being the main affected group (Wallace 1). Hanson (1) states that texting while driving is six times more likely to cause accidents while drunk driving is associated with accidents on the road. LaHood (1) also states that the act of texting while driving is increasingly becoming common in the world. Just how does texting while driving cause accidents?
Bennett believes that when an individual is texting while driving, he or she has to take his or her eyes off the road for some time to concentrate on what he or she is saying. The moment that the drivers take their eyes on the road can be decisive, as they can miss a light or fail to observe a hazard on the road. Depending on the speed at which the drivers are moving, the distances that they cover while not looking at the road can be large.
As a result, they can even ram onto another vehicle or object. Such drivers also have to engage their hands when they are texting, with this practice being another contributing factor to the high prevalence of accidents that are associated with texting while driving.
Is driving while texting detectable? Driving under the influence of alcohol is detectable after an accident or at police checkpoints. However, driving while one is sending or receiving messages is hard to detect (Bennett1). Bennett states in the interview that there is no reliable method of investigating whether a person was texting while driving, except if the driver confesses to having done it. This confession usually never occurs. Some of the techniques that have been applied with success in public transport include the use of closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) that monitor the activities of drivers (Bennett 1). However, the problem is associated more with private vehicle drivers.
The affected Groups
Different age groups have been affected by the problem of texting while driving. Studies indicate that the group that is affected most is the teenage group (Gonzalez 2). This group constitutes the largest users of mobile devices. It can access different applications on its phones. The group is also increasingly acquiring vehicles, despite the low average driving experience (“43% of Teens Say They Text & Drive” par. 6). Kelley states that over 80% of teenagers report texting while driving.
This observation can reveal the high incidence of accidents that are associated with drivers who text while driving (Hanes 4; “Home | Don’t Drive and Text Organization” par. 3). The teenage population is more affected than any other age group. More teenagers die of road accidents that are associated with texting while driving. Teenagers also report that some of their greatest fears on the road include drivers who text while driving (Jensen 1).
Texting while driving is associated with significant risks of being involved in a road accident. The latest of the surveys showed that a person is six times at risk of dying in an accident that is associated with driving while texting as compared to driving while drunk (Codey 1). Another survey showed that individuals are likely to be more involved in an accident associated with texting while driving as compared to other people who drink and drive (Hanson 3). The risk of encountering an accident because of driving while a driver is texting was set at 23 times to accidents that are associated with driving while drunk (Neiger 3).
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Bennett stated that the findings of a survey done by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded that driving while texting is six times more dangerous compared to driving while drunk. The amount of time that the driver takes to text according to this survey is 4.6 seconds. This situation is said to increase the probability of a crash by about 23% (Bennett 1). Drivers who go at higher speeds also increase the risk of an accident. Bennett also states that driving while texting is responsible for more than 16% of all deaths that occur annually because of accidents (“State Farm Insurance Company” 9). Texting while driving has also overtaken driving while drunk as the main cause of accidents on the roads.
Evidence from this study suggests that texting while driving is increasingly becoming more common than driving while drunk with some of the reasons for this situation is given. Driving while drunk is also easily detected as compared to texting while driving. Recent studies also show that teenagers are increasingly texting while driving. There is a need to discourage this behavior. Therefore, the interviewed individuals along with the secondary sources indicate that texting while driving is more dangerous than driving while drunk.
The following are some of the notes extracted from the supplemental sources on the evaluation of drunk driving and texting while driving in an effort of finding out the one that poses more danger. From the primary source, which was the interview on ‘What Do You Think Is More Dangerous, Drunk Driving or Texting’, the following notes were made concerning Bennett’s response.
- Both forms of distracted driving are dangerous.
- Communicating through the phone while one is steering a car is six-fold more dangerous than driving when one is under influence of alcohol.
- Texting while driving involves taking eyes off the road for a significant distance.
- Texting while driving is banned in many regions.
- Drunk driving is easier to detect because of the physical appearance of the culprits.
- Texting while driving is difficult to detect as a cause of an accident unless a confession.
In another supplemental source with an unknown author as retrieved from http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=22834&cdvn=news&newsarticleid=34435&mapcode=, texting while driving was also considered a leading cause of death. From this source:
- Half the surveyed teens texting while driving.
- More than 3,000 teens had died because of accidents associated with texting.
- Teens claim they can multitask.
Texting while driving is a dangerous activity and may lead to fatality. Many cases of deaths are associated with the vice according to Richard Codey (1) who observes:
- Texting while driving is more dangerous than other distractions while driving.
- Accidents can lead to disability.
- More young people are guilty of texting while driving compared to their older counterparts.
In another personal interview, texting while driving was considered more dangerous. According to Richard Cline,
- Texting while driving causes more fatalities after accidents.
- Drivers take their eyes off the road while texting.
Just how useful is the telephone in our daily lives? Green (11) observes how,
- It advances in technology have made the telephone an indispensable part of our daily lives.
- Mobile devices have changed the way we communicate.
- Some of the communication devices can be a distraction to our daily activities such as driving.
Driver distraction is the main cause of the accident in most parts of the world, including the United States, as Rachel Galeano reveals in her article Driver Distractions-Don’t Be a Statistic. She reveals that,
- Texting is the main distracter while driving.
- More drivers are texting while driving.
- There are ongoing campaigns to reduce deaths associated with driver distractions.
- People should not be part of the statistic.
In another survey on the leading causes of accidents, texting while driving causes more accidents to drunk-driving (Gonzales 1).
- More teens are affected by adults.
- About 23% of deaths from accidents arise from texting while driving.
- Texting while driving is quickly replacing drunk driving as the main distraction causing accidents.
- There is a growing trend of teenagers texting while driving.
- More than 50% of the teen-class admits to texting while behind the wheel.
- Texting while driving causes 3000 deaths annually compared to 2,700 deaths from drunk driving in the teenage population.
In a story in The Christian Science Monitor, there is an increasing trend of texting while driving (Hanes 1).
- Distracted driving causes deaths and disabilities.
- Movements are advocating for more regulations on distracted driving.
- Victims of accidents associated with texting while driving are increasing
- Campaigns against texting while driving is a challenge.
- More Smartphones are available to teenagers, and hence the new trend.
Most articles have focused on teenagers as the main age group that is affected by texting while driving (Hanson 1).
- Most teenage accidents result from distractions while driving.
- Texting while driving is increasingly becoming the main cause of accidents among teenagers.
- Driving while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while drunk (Hanson 1)
Some organizations have been formed to reduce fatalities that are associated with texting while driving. An example is the Don’t Drive and Text Organization (“Home | Don’t Drive and Text Organization” par. 3). On its website,
- It promotes awareness of the dangers associated with texting while driving.
- Its goal is to rid the highways of people who text and drive.
- It also aims to reduce the number of deaths associated with texting while driving.
Despite teenagers being the group that is most affected by the activity of texting while driving, they also fear people who engage in the same (Jensen 1). According to Jensen,
- Most teenage drivers fear other drivers that are engaged in the activity of texting while driving.
- Teenagers perceive driving while drunk and texting behind the wheel as a dangerous activity.
- However, the teenage group is the most affected in the two distractions, especially sending or receiving messages while driving.
Another study by Kelly found out that a significant proportion of teens text and drive. In this study,
- Texting while driving is more dangerous than driving while drunk.
- More than 80% of college students send and receive messages while driving.
- Texting while driving has led to numerous casualties and fatalities in accidents over the past few years.
In a study by Stiles, teenage drivers are involved in many accidents. Reasons behind this age group being involved in many accidents include:
- More teenagers are currently driving.
- Teenagers are driving at an early age.
- Most of them are not skilled in driving.
- Some of the distractions such as texting while driving are prevalent in this age group.
Driving while under the influence of drugs and driving while texting is among the top ten causes of road accidents (“Top 10 Causes of Car Accidents” par. 1). In a study that is similar to the one above, texting while driving was considered more dangerous than driving while drunk (LaHood 1). This study looked at the impact of texting while driving on society as a whole. Some of the relevant findings include:
- Both drunk driving and texting while driving are causes of fatalities because of road accidents.
- Drunk driving causes fewer accidents compared to texting while driving.
- The financial and social implications of texting while driving cannot be ignored.
- Many people are disabled because of the activity of texting while driving.
Most of the teen drivers are involved in activities that are deemed a distraction while driving. Many campaigns are trying to reduce these activities (Wallace 1).
- Texting while driving is the main reason behind the increased number of accidents in the teenage age group.
- Drunk driving is relatively easy to detect and control.
For a long time, drunk driving has been the main cause of accidents on our roads (Lerner 2). The world has gone over a century of drunk driving, with the results being fatal.
- Men started driving when drunk shortly after the invention of this form of motorized transport.
- Many deaths have resulted from drunk driving.
- For over a century, driving under the influence of alcohol has been a cause of accidents, with this situation increasing in the second half of the century (Lerner 2).
The United States government, like most other governments and authorities around the world, has laws against drunk driving and texting while driving (“National Distracted Driving” par. 1).
- Distracted driving is the main cause of accidents in the country.
- Some of the forms of distracted driving include drunk driving and texting while driving.
- Drunk driving has been replaced by texting while driving as the leading cause of distraction that results in accidents in the country
In an explanation of how alcohol works, Christopher Neiger states that texting while driving can cause accidents. He states,
- Texting while driving is worse than driving while drunk.
- Drivers who send or receive messages take their eyes off the road.
- Reaction time increases while one is texting.
In another source by Olson, the perception of drivers and their response time are affected by the different distractions. In this book,
- Drunk driving has traditionally been the main distraction resulting in many accidents and fatalities.
- Legal action has been taken against drunk drivers.
- Texting while driving is more difficult to detect and hence prosecute.
- Many drivers are currently texting while driving as compared to other times in history.
- Distractions reduce the perception and response time for drivers behind the wheel.
Other researchers described the effects of distractions on driving and the reasons behind the high prevalence of accidents (Regan, Lee, and Young 1). They state that drunk driving is the main universal distracter. However, texting while driving is replacing drunk driving as the main distracter.
- There is reduced attention in drivers who text and drive and those that drive while drunk.
- On the other hand, drunk drivers have the poor judgment of distances while behind the wheel.
- Driving while texting may reduce drivers’ attention on the road
- Driving while texting makes drivers focus away from the road, thus reducing their reaction time.
- Both distractions may be mitigated through proper public education and screening.
Some of the sources focused on one of the distractions while driving (“State Farm Insurance Company” 1).
- Drunk driving causes many fatalities and injuries after accidents.
- Most people claiming insurance after an accident have to prove that they were not drunk.
Bennett, John. What Do You Think Is More Dangerous, Drunk Driving or Texting? Personal Interview. Monterey Park, CA: LA County Sheriff Department, 2014. Print.
Cline, Kyle. What Do You Think Is More Dangerous, Drunk Driving or Texting? Personal Interview. Monterey Park, CA: State Farm Insurance Agent, 2014. Print.
Codey, Richard. More Issues. The Fatal Dangers of Texting While Driving, 2013. Web.
Galeano, Rachel. Driver Distractions – Don’t Be a Statistic, 2011. Web.
Gonzalez, Robert. Texting While Driving Now Kills More Teens than Drunk Driving, n.d. Web.
Green, Leila. Communication, Technology and Society. London: SAGE Publications Ltd, 2002. Print.
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Olson, Paul. Forensic Aspects of Driver Perception and Response. Tucson, AZ: Lawyers & Judges Pub., 1996. Print.
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“State Farm Insurance Company”. Drinking and Driving a Deadly Combination, 1.1(n.d.): 1-9. Print.
Stiles, Laurette. Driving Through the Eyes of the Teens. The Center for Injury Research and Prevention. Philadelphia: State Farm Insurance Company, 2007. Print.
Top 10 Causes of Car Accidents 2012. Web.
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