If you drive a car, cost containment is rapidly becoming as big a concern as safety. Not surprisingly, the two go hand in hand. The better your driving record, the more likely you’ll be able to find affordable car insurance. What may surprise you, however, is the what many experts say is the fastest growing safety risk on the road. It isn’t your lead foot, aggressive driving or even driving under the influence. Dangerous as those practices are, they pale on the scale compared to the risk of using your cell phone to text while you’re driving. According to a recent study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, short of simply steering into an on-coming semi, sending a text message while driving is the riskiest thing you can do.
You wouldn’t read a newspaper while you’re moving down the highway at 65mph. But a surprising number of people think nothing of thumbing off a text or scanning an email, despite the fact that it is specifically or tacitly illegal in every single state and the District of Columbia. It isn’t hard to figure why texting and driving is dangerous: it requires that you take your eyes off the road, for an average minimum of five seconds according to the same Virginia Tech study. Think that isn’t a long time? If you’re driving at top speed, you can travel over a tenth of a mile in five seconds. Next time you’re on the road, make a conscious note to observe exactly how far a tenth of a mile is. Long enough to overtake a slower moving vehicle in your lane or to completely miss the fact that the car ahead of you has stopped. It’s also long enough to trash your driving record, obliterate any good driver discounts and send your car insurance premiums soaring.
Want some sobering stats about driving and texting?
- Texting drivers are 23% more likely to cause an accident and six times more likely than if they were driving drunk.
- 19% of 1,200 drivers surveyed said they text while driving.
- Texting causes a 400% increase in the time you aren’t looking at the road.
- 48% of U.S. teens from 12-17 report being in a car with a texting driver; 34% admit to doing it themselves.
While it’s impossible to directly attribute traffic fatalities to texting, it’s a reasonable assumption that the more people do it, the more likely they are to be involved in a fatal accident. Sending yet another inane OMG, TMI or C U L8R text is hardly worth paying higher car insurance, let alone a trip to the morgue.
See Also: AT&T Wireless Texting and Driving