DRIVING WHILE INTEXTICATED – the new face of ‘DWI’
It is well publicized that texting and driving is a dangerous choice. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 8 people are killed and 1,161 injured EVERY DAY in crashes reported to involve a distracted driver. Due to the prevalence of cell phones, especially with younger drivers, the distraction is typically in the form of a text message.
The pun is intended by the use of DWI. Whether intoxicated or intexticated, drivers are visually and cognitively impaired. With texting, however, there is an additional impairment due to the physical nature of sending a text message. Numerous studies have shown that texting and reading messages while driving causes slower reaction times than when impaired by alcohol. For a relatively simple example, a study by Car and Driver magazine illustrates the reaction times and corresponding extra distance traveled when the subjects were texting, reading, or impaired by alcohol (.08 measurement on breath analyzer):
To put this into practical terms, the average car is approximately 10 feet long. The worst case scenario in this example shows that even if an intexticated driver allows one full car-length of space ahead of them, their reaction delay could cause them to travel more than 4 car lengths. On the other end of the spectrum, Brown’s impairment ranged from one to six feet, which may not seem significant. However, one foot could cause an otherwise avoidable rear collision and six feet is the minimum width of a crosswalk. Significant.
What can we do? BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL by not texting and driving. Would we down a fifth of scotch while driving with our child in the passenger seat? Not likely. But, how many of us pick up the phone to check a text message from our boss about tomorrow’s presentation, or to send a quick message to our friend that we are stuck in traffic (perhaps due to a distracted driver accident) that we will be late meeting them for dinner? I write this not from a place of judgment, but rather a position of realization that I, too, am guilty of intexticated driving and I can make that change TODAY and every day. I implore you to do the same.
For those of you that may have teen drivers, you may have heard of a driving contract. It has been updated to include a few more scenarios & may be a great way of reinforcing the discussion about texting and driving. Please consider making the pledge today.