There’s little doubt that drunk driving poses a serious threat to the safety of other motorists. But could distracted driving be even worse? Texting and using social media apps while driving has become a common occurrence to the point that many states now have laws against it. But could it possibly be even more dangerous than drinking and driving?
Cell phones have become so commonplace in the consumer marketplace that texting while driving has become quite a concern for the health and safety of other motorists. In 2013, ten percent of all fatal accidents involved distracted driving. This resulted in the deaths of 3,154 people. It is estimated that an additional 424,000 people were injured due to distracted driving.
State governments responded by making the action of texting or using social media while driving a criminal offense. At least, 46 states and the District of Columbia have instituted such laws. The laws seem to have done little to discourage the habit. A recent study by Liberty Mutual Insurance surveyed 2,500 teenage drivers. A staggering 70% of them admitted to using social media when they drove. A separate study done by the National Safety Council surveyed 2,409 drivers of all ages. Again, the results were mind-boggling: 74% indicated they would use Facebook while driving.
In 2006, the University of Utah completed research to determine if distracted driving was more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. Using a driving simulator, they tested 49 adult participants. First, they obtained a baseline result. They then tested the same adults driving while using cell phones and finally, driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08%. The results were astonishing. The researchers discovered that distracted drivers, whether using hands-free devices or not, were more impaired than those who were intoxicated by alcohol.
When it comes to the penalties for distracted driving, these vary from state to state. In California, the offense is only a minor infraction. The first offense results in a fine of $20 and subsequent infractions are punishable with a fine of $50. In contrast, in Alaska, the penalties for distracted driving are as great or even greater than similar levels of DUI. If caught using an electronic device while driving, the driver may be convicted of a class A misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $10,000 and a stint in the county jail of up to one year.
Distracted driving may prove to be the DUI of the future. Once states catch up to the dangers posed by texting while driving, these offenses may become just as serious as driving while intoxicated.
If you have been charged with DUI, you will need legal representation. Our attorneys specialize in the defense of DUI charges. We can help you. Contact us today.