Driving While Smartphoning Is Worse Than Driving Drunk Or High

A European driving safety organization performed a study (PDF) using a car simulator and various kinds of driving impairments to measure how much slower the drivers’ reaction times were:

  • 45.9% slower while talking and holding a phone
  • 37.6% slower while on Facebook
  • 37.4% slower while texting
  • 26.5% slower while talking on a hands-free phone
  • 21% slower while high on pot
  • 12.5% slower while legally drunk (0.08% BAC)


They also found that about half of young adults and a quarter of all drivers text while driving. If that’s not enough to make you angry, about 9% of all drivers shave or put makeup on while driving. And since we know that:

  1. drunk-driving is a very serious problem, and
  2. driving while texting is three times worse than driving while drunk, and
  3. driving while texting is now rampant, then

it follows that our roads are currently nothing short of doomways littered with the bodies of the innocent. Except that, as we’ve seen before, not only has the rate of car accidents not increased to keep up with all the dangerous smartphone behavior, but the rate has actually been declining.

And so a question to be begged arises: is impaired driving actually a serious problem, or is it just a moral panic — a modern-day witch hunt? After all, if Abigail gets into an accident with Betty while texting, there’s no way to know if she would’ve avoided the accident otherwise; and if Betty faints while Abigail performs a Satanic ritual, there’s no way to know if she would’ve been fine otherwise. But witchcraft makes a nice scapegoat.

See Also:


From The Institute of Advanced Motorists (PDF), via Tech Week Europe and Slashdot


  1. Turns Out Bad Drivers Drive Badly Even Without Cellphones | Apt46 - pingback on October 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm

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