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Are Texting Car Accidents More Common Than DUI?

The campaign to prevent drunk driving accidents has been ongoing for decades and today many people have gotten the message that driving under the influence is morally wrong. Even though DUI accidents still occur far more than they should, most drivers are at least aware that drinking and driving are wrong and risky. Yet, some experts claim that driving while texting is even more dangerous and more pervasive.

Legislators have already considered banning texting and driving – or any mobile device use while driving — in many jurisdictions. In 2008 alone, the Florida Highway Patrol found that 1 400 personal injuries and 15 deaths were the result of driver distraction. Currently, the Florida Highway Patrol does not keep records of specific distractions. However, in the future officers hope to accumulate records on the number of driver distraction accidents caused specifically by texting or mobile phone use.

However, studies have already shown that texting and cell phone use while driving is dangerous. According to the National Safety Council, 80% of all car accidents are due to driver inattention. Other studies have found that texting while driving is as dangerous as driving under the influence – drivers distracted by texting are four times more likely to get into a serious car collision. This is the same risk factor as driving under the influence.

Unfortunately, drivers do not seem to be getting the message about driving while using mobile devices. According to the American Automobile Association, 46% of teen drivers text while driving. While there is a social stigma to drinking and driving, a similar social stigma does not appear to exist for texting and driving. This casual attitude about using cell phones while driving, warn experts, may make texting more dangerous than drinking and driving, simply because more drivers are liable to text and drive or to see nothing wrong with texting and driving.

Representative Doug Holder, R-Sarasota, has filed a bill which would ban texting while driving. The bill, which will be under review in the 2010 legislative session, is supported by cell phone companies. The main problem, legislators note, is that it may be difficult to enforce such a new law. Some members of the US Senate may begin denying funding for federal roads in states where texting is legal on roads.

Part of the problem with texting is that it violates a fundamental rule of the road: keep your eyes and focus on the road. Drivers who text remove their eyes from the road for seconds or minutes while typing or sending text messages. This is enough time to cause a serious pedestrian accident, collision, or fatality. Even talking on a cell phone removes focus from the road and can result in an accident.