Thanks to decades of public awareness campaigns, almost everyone knows that driving under the influence of alcohol is extremely dangerous. However, in the digital age, there is a newer risky behavior that could be overtaking drunk driving in terms of causing accidents: texting while driving.
Since 2014, it has been illegal to text behind the wheel in South Carolina. Unfortunately, this has not stopped many people – particularly young drivers – from practicing this dangerous behavior and putting themselves and others at risk.
So, is texting and driving more dangerous than drinking and driving? There haven’t been extensive direct comparative studies, but what we can say for sure is that texting behind the wheel is causing more and more crashes each year, even as drunk driving accidents decline.
Texting and Driving by the Numbers
Texting and driving can sometimes be difficult to separate from other, related behaviors, as many studies lump it into the category of “distracted driving.” However, distracted driving is on the rise, and texting almost certainly has something to do with it.
Just between 2005 and 2010, there was a 28 percent increase in fatalities due to distracted driving, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This timeframe coincides with a significant shift in technology, with flip phones giving way to smartphones and other devices with texting capabilities. It is likely that as people began to take their eyes off the road and look at their phones, they became distracted and got into more accidents. By 2016, the trend had developed so much that in that year alone, distracted driving killed 3,450 people nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Drinking and Driving by the Numbers
Drinking and driving still currently kills more people nationwide than texting and driving do, but the numbers have sharply declined over time. In the mid-1970s, drunk driving accounted for 60 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to the NIH. By 2016, that number had fallen to 28 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Comparing the Trends
While drinking and driving is still a serious threat, it is a problem on the long-term decline. Texting and driving is a more recent phenomenon that seems to be growing worse in the long term. The rise of smartphones may be contributing to both of these trends, with ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft keeping people from driving under the influence even as sober drivers look at their screens more often. In any case, both behaviors are extremely hazardous, and parents should make it clear to teen drivers that both are completely unacceptable.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in South Carolina Today
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, whether the other driver was texting or under the influence, the South Carolina car accident lawyers of Schiller & Hamilton are ready to fight for you. With offices across the state, we can meet you where you are. For more information on how we can help, contact us now for a free claim review and advice about your best legal options.