It’s Scary How Much Texting While Driving Changes Reaction Time

April 19, 2017

Texting While Driving

As adults, we understand that texting while driving is dangerous; a survey shows that 98% of us appreciate this fact. Despite the knowledge of the danger, 49% of adults admit that they text while behind the wheel of a car. This number keeps increasing. 60% of these texting adults claim that three years prior to the survey, the never texted and drove. The most surprising statistic though is that only 43% of teens text while driving. While this is still a high number, it is shocking that more adults than teens choose to text and drive.

Texting While Driving is Deadly

We all know that texting while driving is dangerous. Yet, we cannot seem to stop ourselves from doing so. Distracted driving, which is increasingly due to texting and driving, is resulting in greater numbers of deaths every year. In 2011, 3,267 people died due to distracted driving. The following year, the number was 3,331. In 2015, the number was up to 3,477 deaths and 391,000 injuries.  Every day in the US, 8-9 people are killed and 1,161 are injured due to distracted drivers.

What Happens When You Text and Drive?

One of the reasons people think they can text while driving is because they don’t realize how far their car travels or how much their reaction time changes when their eyes are off the road.  Think back to the number of almost accidents you have had in your life. And remember how you just avoided them. How many of those almost crashes would be actual crashes with just a moment of distraction?

Stopping Distance and Texting

Think about how many close calls you have each day, and how many would have been crashes in just another second.

Reaction Time and Distance

Studies show us that reaction time and stopping distance are increased by texting while driving. Car and Driver performed a study during which it looked at reaction times and stopping distance during:

  1. Normal conditions
  2. Writing a text
  3. Reading a text
  4. Impaired by alcohol to .08

The first test subject was a young man.

At 35 mph the first test subject showed a normal reaction time of .45 seconds. This number increased to .52 while writing a text and .57 while reading. This translates into 16 feet while writing a text and 21 extra feet, greater than a car length, while reading.

At 70 mph, the first test subject showed a normal reaction time of .39 seconds. This change to .48 while writing a text and .50 while reading. At 70 mph, every second increases the stopping distance 103 feet. This means this subject’s stopping distances was changed to 31 feet while composing a text. While drunk, he only drove an extra 15 feet. That’s right, composing a text caused a slower reaction time than driving drunk.

The second subject was a middle aged man. 

This subject showed substantially slower times than the fist driver and even greater increases in response time when he text and drove.

At 35 mph, the second test subject showed a reaction time of .57 seconds. When he wrote a text, his time increased to 1.36 seconds or 41 extra feet to stop. Reading a text increased his time to 1.44 second. Drinking changed his reaction time to .64 seconds.

At 70 mph, the second test subject showed a base reaction time of .56 seconds. When he read a text his time increased to .91 and it took him 36 extra feet to stop. When he wrote a text, it took him 1.24 seconds to react and 70 extra feet to stop. Drinking caused his reaction time to change to .60 and an extra 4 feet.

As you can see, texting had a much greater impact on this driver. This suggests, reasonably, that people with slower reaction times, as is generally the case as we age, are likely to be even more seriously impacted by engaging in texting and driving.

Car and Driver notes that it barely touched the surface of the problem in its test. It used a very controlled environment, “a straight road without any traffic, road signals, or pedestrians.” Also, please keep in mind, that though the reaction times for drunk driving are not as bad as those for texting, it does not mean that driving impaired is safe. Almost 10,000 people are killed each year due to alcohol-related crashes. Drunk driving creates additional problems for drivers beyond reaction time.

Please. Put Down the Phone

Hands Free Phone

Many phones connect to cars and allow you to listen to texts and speak to compose them. Please keep in mind this can still be a distraction.

The conclusion here is an easy one. Do not text while driving. There is nothing so important that it is worth your life, the lives of your passengers, or the lives of other people on the road. Also, keep in mind, it is common for police to now look into whether people were texting or using their phones while driving. Most states make it illegal to text while driving, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey. As a result, if you seriously injure or even kill someone due to texting while driving, you can be charged with a serious crime. At the very least, you will probably be held responsible for any car accidents you cause due to being distracted.

Injured Due to a Texting Driver?

Unfortunately, many of our clients are injured due to the conduct of a distracted driver and need medical attention. If you are injured due to another driver’s negligence, please contact our experienced car accident attorneys here at Lowenthal & Abrams. The consultation is free and there is no fee if you don’t receive compensation.



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