Recently, an article outlining a woman’s outrage that the person who caused her husband’s death because he was texting while driving would only be given a $500 traffic ticket. Linda Foster broke down outside the courtroom moments after hearing there would not be criminal charges filed against the man who killed her husband to send a text. “This is what Paul’s life was worth? A traffic ticket?” – Foster. It led me to think about why texting while driving is treated less seriously than Drunk Driving or Drugged Driving despite the public outcry and warnings against it. So let’s look at the facts.
Drunk Driving – In 2013 28.7 Million people admitted to driving under the influence according to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings.
Drugged Driving – The same study reported that roughly 9.9 Million people reported driving while under the influence of drugs.
Texting & Driving – 34% of people admit that they have texted while driving. Based on the U.S. populations figures from 2016 that means that just over 100 Million people text and drive.
Drunk Driving – Drunk Drivers are 7x more likely to die in a car crash than a sober driver. That number is astounding and because of this we have decided to severely punish it. Obviously your reaction time is slowed, decision making is foggy, and you’re more likely to take unnecessary risks.
Drugged Driving – Several studies have found that drivers with THC in their blood are 2x as likely to be involved in a fatal crash. There are obviously other drugs used while driving, but for the sake of this article, only THC is being considered. It should also be noted that most studies that show people with THC in their blood are more likely to crash also cannot directly related THC use to a higher proclivity for causing accident because alcohol is so often also found in their system.
Texting & Driving – Texting while driving makes you 23x more likely to crash. This is due to the fact that your eyes are off the road for a minimum of 5 seconds at a time and your brake reaction speed is slowed 18%. If you’re traveling at 55 mph while trying to send a text, you’re eyes are off the road long enough for you to travel the length of a football field.
Drunk Driving – DUI, which is a misdemeanor that costs the individual roughly $10,000 per offense when all is said and done. It is also increased to a felony when someone dies as a result or there are repeat offenses.
Drugged Driving – The same as a DUI in most instances, despite there being little proof that smoking weed actually leads to higher accident rates.
Texting & Driving – For the most part you get a ticket, because it’s hard to prove anything else, and if you live in Indiana, you know the texting while driving laws are NEVER enforced. There are some instances where you can be charged for vehicular manslaughter or homicide, but there are no separate escalated charges relating solely to the texting while driving offense.
Drugged Driving – 11% of deadly crashes involved a drugged driver.
Texting & Driving – It’s hard to know fatality numbers, but 25% of all crashes are due to texting and driving, so the fatality number should correlate. We do know that 11 teens die every day due to texting and driving accidents.
More people text and drive than drink and drive. Texting and driving increases the chance that someone is involved in a crash by more than drinking and driving, and texting and driving is responsible for a vast amount of fatalities, specifically in teens. Yet texting and driving is punished more leniently than drunk driving and drugged driving. Why? It’s probably time we start treating Texting & Driving for what it is, an epidemic that has plagued our society to the same extent as drunk driving before awareness was brought to the issue and it became a severely punishable offense.
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