What does it mean to "drive safe" in 2015? Does it mean being a responsible, courteous and attentive driver? Compared to 40 years ago, safe driving is considerably different. Today, nearly everyone has a cell phone. While they are convenient, they pose a real distraction for many drivers. For example, when a driver is texting, their eyes are off the road and their attention is elsewhere. Which greatly reduces their reaction time. Surprisingly, texting while driving can be as bad, if not worse, than driving while intoxicated.
In 2009, a series of experiments were conducted on a rented airport taxi way. Testing two separate driver's reaction times while reading a text message, writing a text and driving while intoxicated. The tests were performed first at 35mph and then 70mph. An eyelevel light was mounted on the windshield to simulate brake lights. After a baseline of the driver's regular driving habits was established, both drivers were instructed to read a lengthy text message aloud, then type the same message. During these two tests, the "brake light" was activated and their reaction times were recorded. The drivers then had to repeat the same tests at 70mph. After the texting tests, the drivers pulled over and were instructed to get their blood-alcohol levels to 0.08. They then repeated the "brake light" reaction time test without any distractions. Again at 35mph and then 70mph.
The test's results found that both drivers performed worse while reading and texting compared to being intoxicated. While this may be a surprise you, consider that the experiment wasn't performed under real world conditions. There were no pedestrians, no other cars or road signals. The driver's cognitive power and motor skills were not fully tested. The second driver performed worse. While traveling at 35mph, he went an extra 45-feet while reading a text and an extra 41-feet while writing a text. And only an extra 7-feet while impaired. Comparing this to his 70mph test, the same driver went and extra 36-feet while reading, 70-feet while writing and 4-feet while impaired.
In the real world, this would mean the difference between a fender bender and a fatal crash. The next time you are driving remember that taking your eyes off the road for even a few seconds can cause an accident. To avoid becoming a high risk driver, paying higher insurance premiums, and potentially killing someone, drive safe and not distracted!
Andrew works for Best Buy Insurance, a Phoenix Auto Insurance company. Best Buy Insurance serves the greater Arizona region and has been established 20 years ago. You can also see some of Andrew's work at Tempe Web Design.