Texting While Driving Is More Dangerous Than Drunk-Driving; Is Jail-Time Warranted?

A study by the Transport Research Laboratory, a British center for transport research, has suggested that texting while driving is riskier than driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Texting adversely effects drivers’ reaction times, steering control (ie. drifting out of the lane), and maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Motorists who use their mobile phone to send text messages while on the road dramatically increase the likelihood of collision – their reaction times deteriorated by 35 per cent.

In comparison, those who drank alcohol at the legal limit were 12 per cent slower, those under the influence of marijuana were 21 per cent slower. Drivers who sent or read text messages were more prone to drift out of their lane, with steering control by texters 91 per cent poorer than that of drivers devoting their full concentration to the road. This compared with a decline of 35 per cent by drivers under the influence of marijuana.

The Transport Research Laboratory concluded that text messages took on average 63 seconds to compose while the phone owner was driving, compared with 22 seconds when sent from a desk.

Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, which commissioned the research, said: “No responsible motorist would drink and drive. We need to ensure that text devotees understand that texting is one of the most hazardous things that can be done while in charge of a motor car.”

Nick Reed, lead researcher for the study, said: “This demonstrates how dangerous it is to drive and text. When texting, drivers are distracted by taking their hand off the wheel to use their phone, by trying to read small text on the phone display and by thinking about how to write their message.

Effective this past September 21, those found driving and texting in Suffolk County on Long Island are subject to a $150 fine. Westchester and Nassau recently approved similar laws, but those measures have not taken effect. New York City is considering a similar ban. Four other states have such a law: Alaska, Washington, Minnesota and New Jersey.

Britain takes a much harder line. Last month the law changed so that motorists who cause a fatal accident while using a mobile phone can be JAILED for up to five years. Previously the maximum punishment for similar crimes was a £5,000 fine and points on the driver’s licence. Is there a good argument against incarcerating someone who engages in conduct even more dangerous than drunk driving and causes the death of another? If there is, we’d like to hear it.

The lawyers at Levine & Slavit have decades of experience getting results for our clients, including personal injury claims of pedestrians injured by negligently operated motor vehicles. We have offices in Manhattan and Long Island, handling cases in New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and surrounding areas. To learn more, contact the personal injury lawyers at Levine & Slavit for their help, or watch our videos.

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