Realities of distracted driving | Drunk doesn’t begin to cover it

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Cell phone use

Using cell phones while driving is dangerous, and it's illegal in many places. Image from Flickr.

Distracted driving is the newest worry for most drivers on the road. The belief of most is that teen drivers are the ultimate distracted drivers, but new studies are showing exactly the opposite. Between texting, phone calls and having the internet in their hands, adults are actually the most distracted drivers on the road. What’s the real risk, though?

Who really drives distracted?

A recent poll from the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that adults are usually the most distracted drivers; 47 percent of adults say that they have sent text messages while driving. A full 75 percent of adults use their cell phones while driving, while only 52 percent of 16 and 17-year-olds do. On top of that, more than 40 percent of people say they have been in a vehicle where someone else’s cell phone use has put them in serious danger.

The effects of driving distracted

Most drivers know that driving distracted is a bad idea. A recent study at the University of Utah, though, came up with some impressively scary results. Driving with a .08 blood alcohol level — the legal limit in many states — increases the risk of a crash by four times. Driving while texting, though, has been shown to increase the chance of a crash by up to eight times. In other words, driving distracted is twice as dangerous as driving drunk.

Laws against distracted driving

Because of the increased risk of an accident, many states have passed laws against distracted driving. There are eight states that restrict handheld cell phones during driving; 29 states ban “novice drivers,” and 18 states ban bus drivers from using cell phones at all while driving. Thirty states and Washington D.C. ban all text messaging while driving. There is a complete list of cell phone bans on the Governors Highway Safety Association website

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