The Carnage Won’t End Until We Treat Texting Like Drunk Driving
Text messaging makes a crash up to 23 times more likely.
By Sandra Dalton, staff blogger.
The numbers and studies are in. We know that texting while driving is an unacceptable risk, taking lives on par with drunk driving. And yet, there is some overall reluctance to taking serious criminal action against the people who do it. Somehow, in the minds of lawmakers, and apparently some drivers, it just isn't as shocking as disregarding the lives of others when you drink and drive.
Why? Because drinking is fun, irresponsible, and unnecessary, but promptly answering your texts is some sort of duty or right?
It is time for lawmakers to face reality. A DUI conviction carries penalties so severe that it can ruin a person’s life and destroy their career, even if there was no accident and no one got hurt or killed. The only justification for our current DUI laws is the fact that drunk driving so greatly increases the likelihood of having an accident and killing someone. Studies have found that texting while driving is far more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. Why doesn’t the law treat it as such?
Alaska and Utah Leading the Way
There are only two states where you can go to jail for texting while driving – Alaska and Utah.
Alaska has the stiffest penalties in the country. Texting and driving with no accident or injuries is a class a misdemeanor. You can be fined up to $10,000 and spend a year in prison. Someone gets hurt and it becomes a felony. If you kill someone while texting and driving, you can be fined up to $250,000 and spend 20 years in prison.
Utah isn’t nearly as tough on texting, but comes in second making it a class c misdemeanor carrying a fine of up to $750 and landing you up to 90 days in jail. If someone is injured it moves up to a class b misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail sentence of up to six months.
Did You Know?
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “reading a text message behind the wheel can take your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds – enough time to drive the length of a football field.”
- Texting while driving increases the likelihood of a crash by 23 times.
- Arizona, Missouri, and Montana allow school bus drivers to text while driving with students on board.
Kudos to Alaska for recognizing the seriousness of texting while driving, and stepping up to the plate. Now it’s time for the rest of the country to catch up.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident caused by a distracted driver you can learn more about your rights and how you can recover damages for your losses by searching our directory to find a lawyer near you.