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Dangers of Texting While Driving

There is no questioning the fact that the use of cell phone while driving is risky, and if it's the practice of texting, then it becomes even more dangerous, as the driver's eyes are glued to the cell phone display instead of windshield.
OpinionFront Staff
Even though it has been proved time and again that texting while driving can result in a disaster, not many of us are ready to mend our ways. In fact, several administrations have taken a note of the dangers associated with it and banned the practice altogether in their jurisdiction. While that has been an important step towards driving safety, it hasn't quite lived up to the expectations in terms of implementation. So the need of the hour is to make people aware of the dangers of this practice, and what better way to do that, but to provide some facts and statistical data about the risks involved.

Dangers of Texting Behind the Wheel

The use of a cell phone while driving has been an issue of raging controversy since a long time. As cell phones became affordable, their use increased to a significant extent. With time, people got so obsessed with these gadgets, that talking or texting suddenly became irresistible. The enticement of cell phones was such that people were just not able to stop using a cell phone even while driving. But obviously, this was like spelling doom for oneself, as juggling between driving and conversing caused distraction, which, in turn, resulted in accidents. The craving to reply to a text message always got the better of the person and suddenly texting became one of the major causes of motor accidents in the United States―almost at par with drinking.

Some Staggering Facts
In 2009, an experiment by one of the leading automotive magazines in the United States revealed that texting is more of a threat than alcohol when it comes to driving. Surveys initiated by several organizations dealing with road safety and motor insurance have revealed that a large number of individuals, especially teens and youths in their early 20s, admitted that they do get distracted when they are texting in course of driving.

The risks are not restricted to road transport alone. On September 12, 2008, a train collision in Chatsworth, LA, resulted in the death of as many as 25 passengers on the train. The investigations that followed revealed that the engineer operating the train was texting while on duty, which distracted him and caused the accident.

According to a study at the Monash University Accident Research Center, text-messaging while driving results in distraction as a number of requisites of safe driving are ignored. These include paying attention to road signs, keeping a watch on the road, and detecting possible hazards. Not following the basics of safe driving causes accidents, which can even result in loss of life for you and people around you.

Some Interesting Statistics
Your chances of getting into a serious crash increase by four times, if you are using your cell phone while driving. This can be attributed to the fact that use of cell phone reduces the activity of brain associated with driving by a whopping 37 percent. Statistics also reveal that texting is one of the major factors for distraction of a driver―the main culprit in 25 percent of the reported cases.

Around 50 percent of all drivers between the age of 18 and 24 text while they are driving, while 20 percent of all adult drivers are involved in the same. Almost half of the subjects between the age group of 12 - 17 admit that they have traveled in a car with the driver busy texting. In 2007 alone, around a thousand car crashes in the United States occurred as a result of distraction caused while texting.

Individuals who juggle between texting and driving are 23 percent more likely to meet with an accident compared to their counterparts who follow the norms of safe driving. A truck driver who indulges in this practice is 23.2 times more likely to meet with an accident, compared to his counterpart who is paying full attention to the road.

Studies also reveal that these risks far exceed the risks associated with drunk driving. Almost 80 percent of the accidents are caused as a result of distraction while texting, which is quite high compared to the number of accidents caused by drunk driving. When you text while you are behind the wheel, it increases your chances of getting involved in a car crash by six times compared to driving under influence of alcohol.

Texting while driving is considered one of the major causes of accidents, not just in the United States, but in several parts of the world. Though laws against the use of cell phones while driving do exist, implementing them is not an easy task, and therefore, the onus is on you as an individual to understand this practice and refrain from it.