Don't Text and Drive Blog

Why Is Texting and Driving Worse Than Drinking and Driving?

Posted by Robert Edgin on Sun, Jun 26, 2011 @ 10:39 AM

You already know that texting and driving is dangerous, but why is it worse than drinking and driving?

Drinking and driving is bad, very bad, but a study conducted by Car and Drivertexting while driving resized 600 magazine shows that texting and driving impacts a drivers abilities far more than driving drunk! How can that be?

Before we get to the Car and Driver test results, let's answer the why question. When you are driving impaired, your reaction times are delayed because your brain is not firing at full speed. However, you are still watching the road and concentrating on your driving. You're paying attention to what's in front of you in hopes of making it home safe. You're doing the complete opposite when you're texting!

Texting and driving steals your focus and forces you to concentrate on something other than the road. Although you're brain is not impaired, you're reaction time is slowed because you're not looking at the road! It's hard to react to brake lights and road hazards (like other cars or people) if you're not watching where you are going.

As you'll see from the results below, the difference between drinking and texting is very obvious. Although it seems like texting only takes your eyes off the road for a few seconds (the average is 5 seconds per text) which should not be that big of a deal, the fact is that 5 seconds at 50 mph is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field. Would you close your eyes and drive for 5 seconds? You do every time you text while driving!

Here are the official results from Car and Driver magazine's study:

"The results, though not surprising, were eye-opening. Intern Brown’s baseline reaction time at 35 mph of 0.45 second worsened to 0.57 while reading a text, improved to 0.52 while writing a text, and returned almost to the baseline while impaired by alcohol, at 0.46. At 70 mph, his baseline reaction was 0.39 second, while the reading (0.50), texting (0.48), and drinking (0.50) numbers were similar. But the averages don’t tell the whole story. Looking at Jordan’s slowest reaction time at 35 mph, he traveled an extra 21 feet (more than a car length) before hitting the brakes while reading and went 16 feet longer while texting. At 70 mph, a vehicle travels 103 feet every second, and Brown’s worst reaction time while reading at that speed put him about 30 feet (31 while typing) farther down the road versus 15 feet while drunk.

texting and driving statistics

Alterman fared much, much worse. While reading a text and driving at 35 mph, his average baseline reaction time of 0.57 second nearly tripled, to 1.44 seconds. While texting, his response time was 1.36 seconds. These figures correspond to an extra 45 and 41 feet, respectively, before hitting the brakes. His reaction time after drinking averaged 0.64 second and, by comparison, added only seven feet. The results at 70 mph were similar: Alterman’s response time while reading a text was 0.35 second longer than his base performance of 0.56 second, and writing a text added 0.68 second to his reaction time. But his intoxicated number increased only 0.04 second over the base score, to a total of 0.60 second.

As with the younger driver, Alterman’s slowest reaction times were a grim scenario. He went more than four seconds before looking up while reading a text message at 35 mph and over three and a half seconds while texting at 70 mph. Even in the best of his bad reaction times while reading or texting, Alterman traveled an extra 90 feet past his baseline performance; in the worst case, he went 319 feet farther down the road. Moreover, his two-hands-on-the-phone technique resulted in some serious lane drifting."

For the complete Car and Driver article, visit and take a look for yourself.

Commit to being a text free driver and making the roads safer for everyone. Sign the text free driving pledge today at and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Tags: don't text and drive, texting and driving statistics, texting thumb bands, texting while driving, drinking and driving