Could driving while texting (DWT) actually be worse than drunk driving? That’s the question Car and Driver magazine set out to answer. They designed a test to measure reaction times of drivers who were (1) reading a text; (2) writing a text; and (3) intoxicated.
The reaction times of two subjects were tested. One was a 22-year-old intern and the other was the 37-year-old magazine editor. The participants were told to brake when signaled by a red LED light mounted on the windshield (meant to simulate a brake light). The tests were run at 35 and 75 miles per hour.
The delay in reaction times for DWT was worse than DWI. Much worse.
At 35 mph, the younger driver’s stopping distance increased by 7 feet when drunk. But his increased stopping distance while sending a text was double the increase when drunk (14 ft) and was triple (21 ft) when reading a text.
The effect was even greater for the older driver. The effect on his stopping distance while sending a text was over 10 times greater than while driving drunk. The effect while reading a text was over 20 times greater than while driving drunk.
Here’s a vid of the Car and Driver test.
So it’s a good thing that this year North Carolina became the 14th state to pass a ban on driving while texting. Governor Perdue announced that she signed the bill via text message: “This msg 2 u was composed while I was behind my desk, not behind the wheel. Hope u r not driving now.”
PS: After writing this blog entry, I saw that Texas linebacker Sergio Kindle crashed into an Austin, Texas apartment building last week while he was either sending or receiving a text. Be safe! LPE