Texting While Driving Just As Dangerous As Drunk Driving

Lakewood, Colorado Personal Injury Lawyer Serving Denver, Boulder, and Nearby Areas

Posted: December 15, 2023

texting while driving vs drunk drivingAccording to this study of distracted driving vs drunk driving, drivers who text or use handheld devices are four times more likely to be involved in an accident. Although this fact has long been circulated in the media, the threat of a car accident is not enough for many people to put down their phones while behind the wheel. However, these results may make you rethink your position.

According to the study, texting while driving is as dangerous as driving with a blood alcohol level that is twice the legal limit.

To conduct the study, researchers from several universities compared texting while driving and drunk driving by using driving simulators over a two-day period. One group of participants was intoxicated with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit. The other group was issued a cellphone with headphones and a microphone to simulate hands-free operation. The groups were put into the driving simulator and were tasked with keeping their virtual vehicle within its lane at a speed of 37 to 50 miles per hour.

When the group with cellphones was merely having an uninvolved, hands-free conversation, they drove fairly well, like someone with a blood alcohol level well under the legal limit. Once the conversation became more involved and taxing, however, the cellphone group was not always able to drive well; they drove with the skill of someone at the legal limit. Finally, once the participants were required to text while driving, they drove the same as the group that was over the legal limit.

When comparing drunk driving and distracted driving, they’re just as bad as each other. You should only drive when sober and focused fully on the road. 

Colorado Law and Distracted Driving

As studies warning about the dangers of distracted driving pile up, many states have passed laws prohibiting certain kinds of cell phone use while driving. Under Colorado law, it is illegal for drivers to use a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle.

Additionally, Colorado is among the states that have passed bans on texting while driving for drivers of all ages. For those convicted of a first offense, a fine of up to $50 may be imposed. For second or subsequent violations, the fine can go as high as $100.

In addition to the criminal fines, Colorado drivers who text while driving can face civil liability. Under Colorado law, texting while behind the wheel can constitute negligence. Individuals who are injured by negligent drivers can be held liable for expenses flowing from the accident, such as present and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

Should Texting While Driving Be Treated Like Drunken Driving?

Texting while driving and drunk driving are both dangerous behaviors that can lead to accidents, injuries, and fatalities on the road. While there are similarities in the risks associated with these activities, there are also differences in terms of their legal and physiological aspects. Drunken driving is typically addressed with specific blood alcohol concentration limits, and law enforcement uses breathalyzers or blood tests to measure alcohol levels. Penalties for drunk driving often include fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offense.

On the other hand, texting while driving is a form of distracted driving, which can encompass a range of activities that divert a driver’s attention from the road. Texting, in particular, has been a significant concern due to the visual, manual, and cognitive distractions it introduces. Some jurisdictions have implemented laws and penalties specifically targeting distracted driving, which may include fines and points on the driver’s record.

Whether texting while driving should be treated like drunk driving is a matter of policy and legal interpretation. Some argue that the potential harm caused by distracted driving is comparable to drunk driving, and therefore, similar penalties should apply. Others may argue that the two behaviors have different levels of impairment and should be addressed separately. Regardless of how the law should treat both impairments, the best course of action is to drive responsibly. Keep your phone away, and if you’ve been drinking, call for a driving service to take you home safely.

Texting While Driving Facts

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in the United States, distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2019 alone.
  • According to the Federal Communications Commission, each day in the United States, approximately 8 people are killed, and more than 1,000 are injured in crashes that involve a distracted driver.
  • The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that texting while driving increases the risk of a crash by 23 times compared to driving without distractions.
  • According to a survey by the NHTSA, at any given daylight moment, approximately 2.9% of drivers are using handheld devices.
  • Young drivers are especially prone to texting while driving. The CDC reports that among high school students who drive, 39% texted or emailed while driving at least once in the 30 days prior to the survey.
  • Many states have implemented laws to address distracted driving, including texting while driving. Penalties for violating these laws can include fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment in severe cases.

Various public awareness campaigns have been launched to educate people about the dangers of texting while driving. These campaigns often use emotional narratives, real-life stories, and statistics to discourage the behavior.

Some smartphone manufacturers and app developers have introduced features and apps that can help prevent texting while driving. These solutions often involve automatic responses to incoming messages or the ability to disable certain phone functions while the vehicle is in motion.

There has been a growing social stigma against texting while driving, with many people recognizing it as socially irresponsible and dangerous.

Contact our Denver Car Accident Attorneys

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a careless or inattentive driver, contact the Frickey Firm by calling 303-997-0211 today to schedule a complimentary consultation or fill out our online form. We serve clients in Denver, Lakewood, Boulder, and the surrounding areas of Colorado.