With technology at drivers’ fingertips, drivers are becoming more and more tempted to send and read quick text messages that they by-and-large assume to be harmless. However, a study has shown that 5 seconds is the minimal amount of attention that a driver who texts takes away from the road. If traveling at 55 mph, this equals driving the length of a football field without looking at the road. It is this kind of statistic that really hits home the danger of texting while driving.
“Car and Driver Magazine” performed an experiment to document just how dangerous texting and driving can be, in comparison with the widely known risky activity of drunk driving. The results threw up some surprises with texting worsening reaction times by 600% compared to someone impaired by alcohol. Reading texts was actually more dangerous than writing them. Even the “best” results for texting while driving still resulted in traveling an extra four feet beyond normal stopping distance, which can be the difference between a near miss and a solid hit resulting in possibly injury or at least an expensive trip to the shop for your car.
The evidence is growing that distracted driving is potentially as dangerous as driving drunk and now outpaces the number of impaired driving offences. The Ontario Provincial Police reported in March that distracted driving was the cause of more deaths on provincial highways than any other factor for the third consecutive year, contributing to 69 deaths in 2015. Ontario stiffened penalties for distracted driving last fall, with a set fine of $490 that a judge could increase to $1,000, plus three demerit points on conviction.
The message is pretty clear – driving is a full time job. You might think you can handle reading a harmless text while driving but tests have shown otherwise. Do not take the risk. Be safe. Resist the temptation to multi-task while driving. Find a safe place to pull over and text or wait until you arrive at your destination.