Is Texting While Driving Really the Root Cause of So Many North Carolina Car Accidents?

October 30, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Drivers who text while behind the wheel – or who engage in other distracted activities – can be at a significantly elevated risk for causing a North Carolina car crash. For instance, many studies suggest that drivers who text have reduced reaction times and may very well perform worse behind the wheel than DUI drivers or drivers who’ve been sleep-deprived.

In other words, texting = hugely dangerous no-no.

On the other hand, efforts to stall or reverse the texting while driving epidemic have been somewhat (although not entirely) fruitless in Charlotte and elsewhere throughout the United States.

Why is this?

If fledgling science convincingly suggests that texting is incredibly dangerous – perhaps more so than DUI driving – then why haven’t we collectively rallied around policies that would ban cell phone use and punish offenders harshly?

In other words, if texting really is as dangerous as DUI driving, then shouldn’t the punishments be commensurate? Right now, if you are caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher in North Carolina, you can go to jail, have your license stripped for a year, and suffer all sorts of other powerful consequences – even if your DUI was uncomplicated by an injury accident or other charges.

So why shouldn’t we do the same thing to drivers who text while driving?

Why shouldn’t we throw them in jail for a year or longer for their activity; strip their licenses; compel them to attend weeks and weeks of safe driving training; and subject them to strict probation terms? The answer probably has less to do with a logical rejoinder to the comparison between texting while driving and DUI driving than it does with our cultural biases.

Despite the science and statistics, we’ve accepted the idea that texting is somehow less hazardous – less socially unacceptable. And that cultural imprimatur – that texting is not necessarily great but not nearly as a “bad” as DUI driving – may ultimately be driving not only the epidemic of texting behind the wheel and cell phone use behind the wheel, but also indirectly driving up accident injury rates in and around the state, health care costs, and so forth.

The moral is this: the fact that we find texting behind the wheel somewhat socially acceptable may be the real root problem. So if we want to improve auto safety in the state, we need to address that real root problem and somehow find ways to make texting as socially detestable as DUI driving. Once we do that, maybe we’ll start to see some real changes.

If you’re looking for practical, specific, step-by-step help after your North Carolina car crash, get in touch with the highly regarded and empathetic team at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo.