23% of all car accidents reported in 2011 are attributed to the driver using a cell phone in some capacity: talking, texting, browsing, and even playing games.
During that same period, 3,331 people died in car accidents that are attributable to distracted drivers. This doesn’t necessarily relate to the use of cell phones, but encompasses all driver distractions.
When it comes to the younger driving demographic, 21% of the accident fatalities were directly attributable to the use of cell phones. And text messaging while driving, either sending or reading while operating a motor vehicle, makes the chance of you having an accident 23 times more likely.
So, why is texting such a catalyst for accidents? One study cited texting as one of the worst distractions that drivers can experience behind the wheel. The average driver will take their eyes off the road for a full 4.6 seconds and travel the length of one whole football field blind to send one text message.
That’ s just scary. And the message has been made loud and clear: texting while driving can be deadly.
One study published in the journal Human Factors has indicated that texting while behind the wheel is actually more dangerous that talking on a cell phone or to a physical passenger in the vehicle. The study actually tested subjects using a driving simulator and found that the texters were involved in more crashes because they responded very slowly to the appearance of brake lights in front of them and showed significant impairment in control.
Researchers were also able to determine that it was more than just drivers taking their eyes off the road that contributed to these accidents. There is evidence that attention patterns differ for drivers who text over those who talk on their cell phones or converse with passengers in their cars. For those talking on cell phones, researchers say that the drivers make an attempt to divide their attention equally between the conversation at hand and driving, making adjusting in the priority of each task as they demand it. But in texting, the attention divide is different. During texting, drivers must divert 100% of their attention to the phone and then divert it 100% back to driving. Because there is several seconds in time when drivers are 100% focused on the process of reading or typing a text, their reactions times are significantly slower. Additionally, the study revealed that reading rather than composing produced the most significant reduction in reaction time.
One possible explanation that has been offered to explain this phenomenon is that drivers that text are 100% distracted from driving duties for up to 4.6 seconds at a time. During this time, drivers often decrease their following distance, which, when coupled with a slower reaction time to visual stimulus such as brake lights, often results in catastrophe.
So what does this mean?
It means that while everyone has heard that texting and driving is a hazardous combination, for the first time we are actually able to see the science behind why. Governments across the country are taking heed of the ever increasing accident rate and are taking action to attempt to slow down the trend and begin to reverse it by banning texting while driving. One such state is Texas.
While the texas state legislature has failed to pass a unilateral ban on texting while driving, many cities within the state have passed their own versions of a ban. Currently, for drivers under the age of 19, it is illegal to use a cell phone in any capacity while operating a vehicle. But current legislation is in the works to ban texting, emailing and other instant messaging while driving, no matter the age of the driver.
So, the next time your cell phone beeps with a text message while you are on your way to your destination, think twice before you pick up the phone to read or respond. If you can’t ignore the message, pull over and respond and keep the roads safer for everyone.
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries resulting from a texting or distracted driver accident, call a Dallas car accident attorney at Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm today at 214-526-7900 or submit the short Free Consultation form below and one of our attorneys will contact you for a confidential case review.