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Drunk Driving vs. Distracted Driving: Which Is More Dangerous?


You hear all the time about the dangers of driving and the potential acts of negligence that can result in significant crashes and injuries. Unfortunately, there are several causes of car accidents, but few are as prominent as drunk and distracted driving.


Both of these situations cause the driver to be significantly impaired, removing their focus from the road, and making it longer for crucial decisions to be made. However, when it comes to accidents and injuries, which one is considered to be worse: distracted driving or drunk driving?


There are multiple statistics that must be considered when determining which one is worse including the impact each has on the driver, how often and when each occurs the most, and how many people have been injured or fatally injured as a result. Here are just a few of the factors that are considered:


How Does Drunk Driving Impact the Driver?

While most states have a legal blood alcohol concentration limit of .08% before it is considered illegal to drink and drive, any amount of alcohol is enough to cause significant impairment for the driver.


Even at just .02% BAC, the driver may experience problems with their concentration and vision, including the ability to track various moving items--such as vehicles on the road. It can also slow down the driver’s decision-making abilities, making it difficult for them to stop in time when approaching traffic signs or other vehicles on the road.


Overall, drinking and driving prevents the driver from recognizing some of the most basic functions of driving which can result in an accident. For instance, a drunk driver may not recognize the driver in front of him or her indicating to turn. Instead of slowing down to allow the driver to turn, a drunk driver may cause a rear-end collision, which can subsequently lead to significant neck or brain injuries.


The Impacts of Distracted Driving

With cell phones becoming more and more prominent, there have been increases regarding accidents involving distracted driving. Even worse is that phone usage is only a portion of what is considered distracted driving, which can include eating or drinking, turning to talk to passengers, and even changing the radio.


When it comes to distracted driving, there are three main factors involved:

  • Visual distractions: Whenever you take your eyes off the road to focus on something else

  • Manual distractions: Whenever you take your hands off the steering wheel to do something else

  • Cognitive distractions: Whenever you take your focus off of driving (this is a common occurrence referred to as “highway hypnosis”)


While there are numerous actions that fall under these categories, texting while driving is always targeted most because it combines all three components of distracted driving. The driver takes their hand off the steering wheel to grab the phone, take their eyes off the road to read their text, and take their focus off the road to think about their reply.


When you break it down, many people think it is a harmless act as an average text can be sent in about five seconds. However, that’s all it takes to travel the entire length of a football field if you’re traveling 55 miles per hour.


Drunk Driving Statistics to Know

The stats concerning drunk driving show just how dangerous this act is and how they can cause significant injuries. These stats are based on a nationwide database.

  • Of all drunk driving accidents, 20.7% of them involve drivers between the ages of 26 and 29 years old.

  • Drunk driving accidents are most common between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m., and on weekends from Friday night at 6:00 p.m. to Sunday at 6:00 a.m.

  • Nearly half (42%) of all fatal accidents that occurred at nighttime in 2015 involved just one vehicle, including 28% directly resulting from drunk driving on the weekends.

  • In 2015, drunk driving resulted in roughly 290,000 injuries and 10,265 total deaths.


Distracted Driving Statistics to Know

Like the drunk driving stats, these are based on a national database, but they show just how serious distracted driving is, especially in younger--and often more inexperienced--drivers.

  • The average ages of those likely to be distracted while driving are between 16 and 24.

  • While men are more likely to be involved in a drunk driving accident, women are more likely to be distracted while driving.

  • In 2015, over 25% of the distracted driving accidents that occurred were between 3:00 p.m. and 5:59 p.m.

  • Fridays and Thursday are the days when most distracted driving accidents occur.

  • 59% of crashes occurring were found to have some form of distraction within the 6 seconds prior to the crash happening.

  • In 2015, distracted driving resulted in roughly 391,000 injuries and 3,477 total deaths.


While there were less fatal crashes involving distracted driving, there were over 100,000 more injuries caused.


Regardless of what the stats may show when in comparison, both drinking and driving and texting while driving are considered dangerous, negligent actions. As such, they should be pursued in both criminal and civil legal matters when someone suffers an injury as a result of these reckless behaviors.


At the Law Offices of Vic Feazell, P.C., it is our commitment to help our clients pursue the justice they deserve. Our Austin car accident attorneys work tirelessly to protect your best interests at every turn and pursue the maximum compensation possible.


With our firm, failure is not an option. Call us for a free consultation today: (254) 938-6885.