28 July 2009

From the Journal of the Intuitively Obvious

Driven to Distraction - Texting Raises Crash Risk 23 Times, Study Finds - Series - NYTimes.com
when the drivers texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting.
This is a pretty crude metric of risk, by the way.  Sure, 23 Times the risk makes a great headline, doesn't it?  And it serves the public health interests of providing dramatic evidence that it's not a good idea to drive & text.  Of course, those who need to be convinced are the least likely to read this article & care -- this sort of research seems instead tailor-made to support legislation in various state houses prohibiting DWT (driving while texting).

Still, I'd be happier if they gave you raw accident risk rates rather than relative rates.  Is it 2.3 accidents per 10,000 miles driven?  2.3 accidents per 100,000 miles driven?  And this "23 times" figure -- is it just for the time period that the drive is texting, or is it a global figure comparing the accident rates of drivers who text to those who do not text?

By the way, when I swapped out my blackberry for the Holy iPhone a couple years ago, the biggest irritation was that since I had to look at the screen to type, I could no longer text while driving.  With the blackberry, I could type accurately without taking my eyes off the road.  Probably for the better, eh?


  1. A 20-year-old who graduated from the high school where I teach died a few months ago from texting. She received her bachelor's degree posthumously and the family was interviewed this week. The article would have been more useful if it had mentioned that she was texting and thus caused her own one-car accidental death. The stupidest thing I ever did while driving down a mountain road was nursing one of my babies, but I was pressed for time and he just turned 15. Experienced drivers can get away with a lot more nonsense than those who've barely left their teens.

  2. I mean, we survived. He's no longer a baby. He just turned 15. Man, I can't write well this late at night.


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