Russell Hebets Oct. 22, 2014

In today’s world Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Impaired is the poster child of the campaign against bad actors behind the wheel, and with good reason. According to the latest NHTSA report, in 2005 alcohol at or over .08 was involved in 20% of fatal crashed in the U.S. What people may not know is that the trend of alcohol involvement in fatal crashes has been fairly steadily declining, while proportions of crashes attributable to texting while driving have been steadily and rapidly increasing. According to the National Safety Council, texting while driving causes 1,600,000 crashes per year. 11 teens die per day, according to the Ins. Institute for Hwy. Safety Fatality Facts, and NHTSA studies have determined that texting while driving is the same as driving after 4 beers and is 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated.

So what do we do about this? Right now there are some groups such as Texting Thumb Bands who are actively educating the populace about the dangers of texting while driving, but these groups pale in relation to the number, resources, and political power of anti-DUI groups such as MADD. If this county is going to even remotely keep pace with the mind-numbing pace of technological advances, it needs to significantly broaden its view of risks on the road.

While there are differing opinions on the degree of effectiveness that the steady increase in criminalization of Driving Under the Influence offenses has had in the country, most people agree that these laws have at least had some level of success in curbing DUI or DWIs. Would the same thing work for texting while driving? If someone is involved in a crash while texting, should there be significant criminal repercussions? How about someone involved in a fatal crash while texting? Should he or she be charged with vehicular homicide just as a drunk driver would be? If your answers to these questions are no, why not? Both drinking while driving and texting while driving involve a conscious decision. According to the most recent data, texting while driving is arguably more dangerous than driving while impaired. If the texting driver should not face prison for a serious injuries or death caused by their actions, why should a drunk driver?