Behind the wheel, texting more dangerous than alcohol


by Jeff Barnwell
Eagle Staff

In today’s world, a problem has arisen for young drivers that has proved more dangerous than driving drunk: texting while driving.

With the number of cars on the road increasing daily, texting while driving is becoming a more prominent issue than ever before.

A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute revealed that texting while moving increased the risk of crashing to 23 times that of non-distracted driving.

With these statistics, how can it still be legal? The answer to this question is that in the majority of states, it is illegal.

34 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws that ban texting while driving, and seven more states have passed laws against texting while driving for novice drivers.

The State of Texas has yet to pass a bill outlawing texting while driving; House Bill 243, which called for a ban, was passed by the Texas House of Representatives early this summer.

However, Governor Rick Perry vetoed this bill, stating that he believed it was “a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults,” thereby halting the movement for a ban for the time being.

The State of Texas does have other laws restricting the use of cell phones in cars, with a ban on all cell phone use for novice drivers (including texting) and a ban on all cell phone use in school zones (Novice drivers are those in their first 12 months of driving).

Despite the absence of a statewide law against texting while driving, a number of cities across the state have passed laws.

There are several smaller cities in and around the Greater-Houston area that have passed laws against texting while driving including Bellaire, West University Place, Galveston and Missouri City.

A study was conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory in which drivers completed a drive under normal conditions, and then they completed the same drive while reading and writing texts.

The test results showed that the reaction times when texting while driving were 35% slower than under normal driving conditions.

In an earlier study, drivers with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 had a reaction time 12% slower than under normal driving conditions.

For the safety of everyone on the road, texting in the car should be reserved for stoplights and stop signs, and for those not behind the wheel.