Driving While Texting vs Driving Under the Influence

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on December 23rd, 2009

So which is more dangerous: driving under the influence or driving while texting?  And which one is severely punished?


Dewd, U Think DUI is Bad…Try DWT

CNET News, Dec. 22 — It's no surprise that driving while texting (DWT) falls under the category of driving while stupid (DWS).

It's even been compared with driving under the influence (DUI). Still, anywhere from one-third to 60 percent of teens admit to texting behind the wheel.

Yet another study–this one out of the University of Utah–reinforces the fact that driving while texting is incredibly dangerous (PDF).

Drivers who text are about six times more likely to crash than those paying full attention to the road, this study says, and their reaction times are on average three times slower than the reaction times of drivers talking on cell phones.

According to the study's results published in the Human Factors journal:

Drivers apparently attempt to divide attention between a phone conversation and driving, adjusting the processing priority of the two activities depending on task demands. This requires drivers to switch their attention from one task to the other. When such attention-switching occurs as drivers compose, read, or receive a text, their overall reaction times are substantially slower than when they're engaged in a phone conversation."



So if DWT is more dangerous than DUI, why is DWT legal in some states and subject to a $50 fine in others?  Why is DUI considered morally repugnant and treated like a felony?  Why is it illegal to even have alcohol over .08% in your body — even if you're not under the influence?  Why are politicians stumbling over each other to pass ever-harsher DUI laws — but doing nothing about driving while texting?

What's the difference between the two, besides DWT being more dangerous?

Oh, right…DUI involves alcohol.  And the prohibitionists at MADD.
 

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