Texting while driving is dangerous. Very Dangerous.
A study conducted by ‘Car and Driver’ showed that texting while driving was significantly more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol drugs. Drivers who were texting while driving were 3-4 times slower than drunk drivers to apply brakes to avoid a collision. As an attorney since 1991, and as lawyer who devotes his entire practice to representing clients who have been injured, usually seriously, the dangers of driving and texting could not be more clear. The purpose of this article is to educate the reader on the reasons texting while driving is so dangerous with the goal to reduce the number of automobile accidents in Atlanta and around Georgia that cause personal injuries.
Metro Atlanta was home to more than 5 million people as of 2007. The city has a large population that is accustomed to living in the suburbs and driving relatively long distances to work. Our roads have become more and more congested over the years. Road signs indicating street names are often poorly placed. The end result of this congestion is that Atlanta traffic is quite prone to sudden stops. A distracted driver is poorly prepared to cope with the sudden stops and starts of Atlanta traffic, and of the traffic in Georgia in general.
Physics of Texting & Driving
Consider how quickly a car moves in terms of feet per second, rather than in terms of miles per hour. Why? Because most people who believe they can safely text and drive at the same time will point out that their eyes only leave the road for a few seconds – and what can happen in a few seconds? Plenty, is the answer – plenty. A car moving at 60 mph is also moving at 88 feet per second. That means that a car going 60 mph will travel 264 feet is 3 seconds. 264 feet is nearly 90% the distance of a football field. Imagine driving on a highway and closing your eyes for nearly the entire length of a football field! Doesn’t that seem dangerous?
Maybe the texting driver then says, “I don’t text while driving on the highway – that sounds dangerous. I only text when I’m going slower, like at 30 mph.” Well, that’s as nearly as dangerous. At 30 mph, a car will travel 132 feet in 3 seconds. If you consider a car to be 12 feet long, that’s 11 car lengths. What if a child darts out from the sidewalk while the driver is texting and looking down, does driving for 11 car lengths while not looking at the road seem dangerous? The fact is that sudden stops of traffic from ahead, and children darting out from sidewalks and side streets are much more likely to occur on surface streets than on highways.
Do you remember high school physics when you learned about momentum and mass and velocity? Remember the equation Momentum = Mass * Velocity? This equation is important in our context of texting while driving because the equation uses mass as a multiplier of momentum and cars have a considerable mass. Without running equations, suffice it to say that a distracted person who is texting colliding with an innocent person on the sidewalk will cause very minor injury to the innocent pedestrian, while a distracted texting driver who collides with an innocent pedestrian will cause serious personal injury and perhaps a wrongful death to the same innocent pedestrian.
Georgia Texting & Driving Laws
O.C.G.A. 40-6-241.2 specifically prohibits writing, sending, or reading text based communication while operating motor vehicle. The penalty for violating this law shall be a misdemeanor conviction with a fine of $150. Writing, sending and reading text based communication is allowed when the vehicle is properly parked.