Worse Than Drunk Driving

I’m having so much fun in my speech class. Not to say that my knees don’t shake nor my stomach get butterflies before I have to give one, but I’m learning all kinds of new information because of the subjects we have to research, and that makes me happy. Here is my latest topic – my hope is to persuade you to change your habits if you find this speaking to you (the speech was persuasive after all). And since it was gleaned through research, I will post my citations at the end.

According to the US Department of Transportation, in the space of one second, a car moving at 35 mph travels 52 feet; at 70 mph, that jumps to 103 feet. That’s per second. What if no one was at the wheel? And in that second a mom with a baby carriage walks out in front of the car. Or a little boy chases his ball out in front of it? Or a bicyclist minding their own business tooling down the bike lane had said car veer into that lane?

47% of adults do this compared to 34% of teens.1

It has 3 components –

  1. Eyes off the road
  2. Hands off the wheel
  3. Mind off what you’re doing

It is…

Texting while driving.

Car and Driver Magazine did an experiment which was highlighted in the June, 2009, issue. They compared the response times of a 22-year-old and a 37-year-old male driver during a real life test – no simulations here. They drove the course to get a base score at 35 and again at 70 mph, and then compared that to how they did while reading a text, creating a text and driving while intoxicated. (They rented an air strip so they didn’t even have to deal with traffic conditions, roads curving nor pedestrians getting in the way).

The results were horrendous. I’ve put the distances of reaction respectful to their ages.

At 35 mph, the time it took the men to hit the brakes was:


  • 21 feet and 188 feet (the 37 year old kept his eyes off the road 4 whole seconds)


  • 16 feet and 90 feet

At 70 mph, the time it took the men to hit the brakes was:


  • 30 feet and 129 feet


  • 31 feet 319 feet (the 37-year-old kept his eyes off the road for 3.5 seconds)

Remember, those figures are when they started to apply the brakes! When comparing those figures to their intoxicated reaction times,

  • The 27-year-old only went 15 feet before hitting the brakes.
  • The 37-year-old reacted at 17 feet when hitting the brakes.

Texting while driving equates more to falling asleep behind the wheel than drunk driving because there is usually some kind of reaction when a driver has had too much alcohol to drink and sees a problem, but there is none when the driver is either asleep or not looking.

We have a family acquaintance that I interviewed for this speech that is in sales and travels extensively in his car. In February of this year when coming home to Largo, traffic on I-275 had come to a halt because of a vehicular fire on the side of the road. A female driver coming around a curve never saw the fire – and never hit her brakes, totaling both cars. The only reason our friend is alive is because he was in a Cadillac and she was driving a Ford Focus – and the metal barrier kept his Caddy from crossing over into oncoming traffic. After asking him how it has changed his life, he responded, “I never drive and talk on the phone anymore, it is just not safe. Your life can end in a heartbeat”. The girl was seriously injured and will deal with those issues the rest of her life.

This is getting long, so I shall end. If, however, you’d like to see how it has affected many more people, check out the documentary special AT&T did in March, 2010, and posted on YouTube. It’s not gory, but very profound; view it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DebhWD6ljZs.

I encourage you to be the role model in your family:

  • Don’t use the phone while driving, especially not to text
  • Make sure your family knows “On the Road, Off the Phone”
  • Get involved with your state representatives and encourage them to present tougher laws against distracted drivers. We must have these laws to protect our citizens! The only law on Florida’s books regarding this issue prohibits any municipality from passing any law regarding cell phones.2 Amazing, when one considers that 5,800 people are killed and over half a million wounded by distracted driving every year.3

As Michael Austin, of Car and Driver, said, “The next time you’re tempted to text, tweet, e-mail or otherwise type while driving, either ignore the urge or pull over. We don’t want you rear-ending us.”4

1 Flores, Marc, IntoMobile, Mobile Technology News Site [Cited June 18, 2010]

2 Governors Highway Safety Association, 444 N. Capitol Street, NW, Suite 722, Washington DC 20001-1534, 2011 Report

3 Federal Communications Commission, 2011

4 Austin, Michael, Car and Driver, June, 2009 issue


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