Everyone knows how dangerous it is to drive while intoxicated. This action puts the drunk driver, any passengers in the car and every other driver and pedestrian in his way at serious risk. Sadly, I am sure we all know someone who has had their life altered by a drunk driving accident. As a society, this issue has been addressed by many different organizations from MADD to the local police forces to our school systems. The term “designated driver” has become commonplace, almost a household phrase. And as an insurance agent, I know firsthand the financial price tag that comes along with this dangerous and foolish act.
In the past few years, I have seen and read about the advent of an equally dangerous act – texting while driving. And while we would like to blame younger teenage drivers, studies have shown that experienced drivers from 30 to 44 years of age are the worst offenders. Older drivers feel more condident, perhaps overconfident, about their driving experience and ability. Do I need to mention that this sets a terrible example for our younger, less experienced drivers?
I came across a study done several years ago by Car and Driver Magazine and the results surprised me. Drivers were tested for their reaction times at 35 and 70 mph under normal conditions and then again while texting and once more after they had had several drinks. The results showed that the drivers reaction time while texting was worse than while driving under the influence of alcohol. And this was all done under very controlled circumstances on a straight road without any traffic or pedestrians. Scary stuff.
We are a society that is getting busier and busier and we love to multitask. It is time, however, to put away the phones while behind the wheel of a car. Maybe we need designated texters? It may sound silly, but it will certainly save lives.