The UK government will soon impose tougher fines for those who text and drive and it’s not hard to see why. New research in the USA suggests more teenagers are killed or injured because of texting and driving than driving while drunk.
The study, carried out by the Cohen Children’s Medical Centre in New York, discovered more than 300,000 teenagers are injured and over 3,000 died every year as a result of sending text messages. Drink driving, in contrast, caused 282,000 injuries and 2,700 deaths.
The phenomenon of texting while driving appears to have reached epidemic levels. Of the 8,947 15-18-year-olds that took took part in the study between September 2010 and December 2011, an estimated 57 per cent of boys admitted to texting while driving in states where doing so is prohibited.
“The reality is kids aren’t drinking seven days per week – they are carrying their phones and texting seven days per week, so you intuitively know this a more common occurrence,” Dr. Andrew Adesman, Chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center and the lead author of the study, said.
Many believe texting, or performing similar tasks such as using the Internet, Tweeting or browsing Facebook, while at the wheel is more dangerous than driving while drunk because doing so involves taking your eyes completely off the road for long periods while concentrating on other, fairly complex tasks that require physical and mental dexterity.
Texting while driving does not yet have the same negative social stigma that drink-driving does, meaning more people do it, and more often. Indeed, texting while driving is still illegal in many states in the US, although it has been totally outlawed in the UK.