Houston Police Officer Paul Lassalle said it used to be easy spotting drunk drivers.
“Prior to the use of cell phones, they were the ones creeping along on the freeway creating a traffic hazard or veering out of their lanes into the path of other vehicles,” said Officer Lassalle. “Today, half of those drivers are not drunk. They’re on the phone texting.”
Lassalle, a member of Houston’s DWI Task Force, says texting drivers are dangerous because they are taking their eyes off the roadway.
“They are basically driving blind,” said Lassalle.
The Houston Police Department strongly supports legislation that will get the word out to everyone and modify the behavior that is not all right to text and drive.
The National Safety Council says a quarter of all traffic mishaps involve drivers using cell phones.
Driving while texting is much worse. According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, a texting driver is 23 times more likely to be involved in vehicle crash than a non-texting driver.
“I think Texans are starting to see the impact of these distracted drivers on our city streets and highways. You don’t want to be near them,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas. “Every auto accident caused by a texting driver is a careless act and is clearly preventable. Somehow we need to get drivers to understand that texting and other distractions increase the risk of being involved in an automobile wreck.”
Dr. Paul Atchley, a nationally recognized authority on distracted driving who is director of the Ph.D Program in Cognitive Psychology, University of Kansas, said, “The research on distracted driving is very persuasive. There is no such thing as multi-tasking. We may switch back and forth between tasks, but it is impossible to concentrate on two activities at the same time.”
Dr. Atchley said research showed that drivers recognize the risks of distracted driving and that they are becoming more willing to take action to end this risky behavior. His own research shows that drivers treat a texting driver as more responsible for a crash than a drunk driver.
“One of the difficulties we face is that many in our society have come to believe that texting is socially acceptable at any time, including while driving. But common sense and research tells us that you cannot text safely while driving any more than you can be intoxicated safely while driving.”
Source: The Insurance Council of Texas