Drunk Driving vs Distracted Driving: What’s Worse?

You’ve likely heard a lot of stats about drunk driving versus distracted driving. There have even been a few TV shows that have conducted less-than-scientific experiments on the matter. But what’s the truth? Is distracted driving really more dangerous than drunk driving? We have the answers for you in this blog. And if you’ve been in an accident with a drunk or distracted driver, give us a call to pseak to an auto accident attorney in Bradenton, FL, today.

What Is Distracted Driving?

“Distracted driving” is a blanket term used to describe any driver whose focus is not on the road. Of course, this is a very broad description, and could be applied to a mom who’s distracted by a toddler throwing a tantrum in the back seat just as easily as it could be applied to a teenager who’s reading a text while on the road. However, when most people talk about distracted driving, they’re referring to texting and other use of a smartphone (aside from hands-free calls) while driving. This will be the definition we use for the purposes of this article.

Drunk Driving vs. Distracted Driving

So, which is more dangerous? Well, unfortunately, there’s not a specific answer to this. Just as there are various degrees of drunk, there are also various degrees of distracted; so, the danger that a drunk or distracted driver presents on the road will always be on a sliding scale.

Drunk drivers are a danger on the road because alcohol slows an individual’s reaction times, impairs judgment, and makes it difficult for them to recognize obstacles on the road. Distracted drivers, on the other hand, are primarily a danger because their focus is not on the road. They’re frequently looking away and may not notice an obstacle or dangerous situation before it’s too late for them to react.

When comparing these two driving impairments, the best we can do is to say that texting and driving makes you as much a danger on the road as drinking four beers would. It absolutely impacts your ability to drive safely and to be aware of your surroundings, regardless of how well you might think you can text without looking down. It takes only a fraction of a second to cause (or to prevent) a crash, and that split second that you spend looking down at your screen can be the one that leads to an accident—just as surely as that split-second delay in your reaction times after drinking can lead to an accident.

The Prevalence of Texting and Driving

While it’s difficult to compare precisely how dangerous texting and driving is against the dangers of drinking and driving, one thing is absolutely certain: Texting and driving is much more prevalent nowadays than drinking and driving. By now, most Americans understand the hazards of drinking and driving, and they are more likely to stop a drunk friend from getting behind the wheel than they used to be. In 1991, over 40% of high school students admitted to riding in a car with a drunk driver; in 2013, that had dropped to 22%.

But texting and driving is much more widely accepted than drunk driving. In fact, researchers found that more than 50% of adults and teens had ridden in a car with someone who was texting and driving. You’ve probably seen people texting and driving almost every day when you’re out on the road, and likely have done it yourself even. It is this incredible prevalence that truly makes distracted driving more dangerous than drunk driving, because it is so widely accepted.

So, when you’re on the road, please remember to put your phone away. Whatever notification you may have received, it can wait until you’ve arrived at your destination. And if you’re ever in a car accident because of a drunk or distracted driver, contact Erjavec Injury Law to work with the best personal injury attorney in Bradenton, FL.