Cell phones are an integral part of our lives. In fact, some statistics show that there are more cell phone subscribers than registered vehicles. The urgent question is, How dangerous and deadly is it to operate the two at the same time? Many studies are starting to show that dialing and texting are the most dangerous activities to do while driving, leading to more accidents than even drunk driving. Nineteen states, including Minnesota, have banned text messaging for all drivers.
A study was conducted at Virginia Tech between 2005 and 2007. The study monitored 203 drivers, as they covered about 3 million miles of real driving. The trucks were fitted with video cameras that focused on the drivers’ faces in the six seconds prior to and during a crash or crash avoidance maneuver. The video revealed texting to be the most high-risk behavior, mainly because their eyes were off the road for nearly 5 seconds while texting. In that amount of time, a truck traveling at 55 mph can cover the length of a football field. These texting drivers were 23 times more likely to have a collision than non-texting drivers.
Dangers of Texting and Driving
Statistics are starting to support the need for legislation to ban texting while driving. The three most prominent studies on driving while texting are:
Here are some national examples of accidents caused by texting and driving:
- In April, 2009, the driver of a semi truck revealed he was texting just prior to slamming into a school bus in Florida, killing one student passenger.
- A Boston public transit conductor said texting kept him from seeing a red light. His trolley rear-ended another trolley, injuring 49.
- On September 12, 2008, the operator of a California commuter train sent a text message 22 seconds before the train crashed, 25 people were killed and 135 injured. The train failed to stop at a red signal.
- The evening of June 26, 2007, five teenage girls were killed in a fiery head-on collision in Rochester, New York. Local officials said it was due to text messaging.
Recommendations on Texting and Driving
Virginia Tech came up with these recommendations based on findings from their research study performed from 2005 – 2007:
- Driving is a visual task and non-driving activities that draw the driver’s eyes away from the roadway, such as texting and dialing, should always be avoided.
- Texting should be banned in moving vehicles for all drivers. As shown in findings overview, this cell phone task has the potential to create a true crash epidemic if texting-type tasks continue to grow in popularity and as the generation of frequent text message senders reach driving age in large numbers.
- Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use because the primary risk is associated with both tasks is answering, dialing, and other tasks that require your eyes to be off the road. In contrast, true hands-free phone use, such as voice activated systems, are less risky if they are designed well enough so the driver does not have to take their eyes off the road often or for long periods.
- All cell phone use should be banned for newly licensed teen drivers. Our research has shown that teens tend to engage in cell phone tasks much more frequently — and in much more risky situations — than adults. Thus, our studies indicate that teens are four times more likely to get into a related crash or near-crash event than their adult counterparts.
~ BLACKSBURG, Va., July 29, 2009
Teen Drivers and Texting
Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) spearheaded a seven year study of teen driving behaviors. The study showed 4 main things that distracted them from their driving:
- texting while driving
- emotional state of mind
- having friends in the car
- talking on the phone
Parents and teens need to discuss driving and texting issues because, despite the risks, teens tend to ignore the restrictions. Some ideas to help guide the conversation:
- know the state laws — Minnesota does not allow for teens under 18 to talk while driving and no driver is allowed to text while driving
- talk about the responsibility of a driver and set family rules — have and enforce appropriate punishment for breaking the rules
- actions speak louder than words — parents need to follow the rules, too
- consider signing a teen driving contract — SADD provides a Contract for Life at www.sadd.org/contract.htm
This information is provided as a service of TSR Injury Law. Our attorneys are consistently named Super Lawyers by their peers and Chuck Slane has been voted one of the 2009 Minnesota Top 40 Personal Injury Lawyers. Our attorneys have years of experience with car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and bicycle accidents. We have represented thousands and secured millions in compensation for our clients. Call 612-TSR-TIME or submit our free case consultation form on the top, right of this page.