Texting and driving poses same risks as drunk driving

Rebecca Mohr

As concerns mount over multi-tasking while driving, six states have banned texting while driving

It is a dark night with very little light to illuminate the road that lies before you. You are on your way to a party, but you’re lost. Calling your friend to try to find out where you are is an option, but since the loud music in the background would make it hard to hear, you opt for texting. As you rummage through your purse to find your cell phone, the car veers to the left over the double yellow lines. After catching yourself, correcting the car and finding your phone, you attempt to slide open the phone with one hand.

Looking at the keypad and paying attention to the road is a constant battle as you struggle to type “need directions” on the screen. You press the send button and look at the road ahead of you. While you were paying attention to the phone, your car drifted to the other side of the dark road, and a pair of headlights is now coming right at you. You over-correct and flip the car. As you lie in the twisted metal, your cell phone buzzes. It’s a text explaining the directions and asking when you are going to be there. Your guess? Not anytime soon.

Same as drinking and driving

Driving can be dangerous. One swerve and your life could be history. This could happen to a responsible driver or one who is behind the wheel with a cell phone. Many states are passing laws prohibiting drivers from driving while using a hand-held cell phone. But lawmakers are not taking texting into account.

“I heard on the radio that texting and driving is like having three or four drinks then driving,” Alexa Manning, junior fashion merchandising major, said. “You take your eyes completely off the road.”

John Dunlosky, professor of psychology, said research has been done about how texting and driving can be directly related to drunken driving.

Dunlosky said subjects have been put in car simulators to test their performance level.

“One person is drunk and one is on the phone and their results are pretty much the same,” Dunlosky said. “Texting and driving is like being illegally drunk and driving.”

Dangerous addiction

Taking your eyes off the road can be dangerous for many reasons. The body’s reaction time slows and you are unaware of other cars’ actions.

“I have caught myself texting then veering off the road,” Barbie Hendrix, freshman sport administration major, said. “I don’t think it’s very safe, but I do it all the time. It can be addicting.”

Manning agrees that texting while driving is addictive.

“I find myself having to finish a word before I look up and pay attention to the road,” Manning said.

Texting while performing any task requires one’s full attention — whether it be operating a train, a car, a boat or a four-wheeler — it can cause an accident. According to the L.A. Times, the Sept. 14 train accident in California “killed at least 25 people and left 135 more injured, 40 of them critically” This is a good example of the repercussions of driving while texting.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed the engineer “sent and received text messages on the day of the accident, including some while he was on duty.”

Texting bans

Accidents caused by texting might be avoided if there are laws put into place about texting and driving.

Overall, only six states — California, Alaska, Minnesota, Louisiana, New Jersey and Washington — have passed laws prohibiting texting while driving.

There has been a lot of debate connected to cell phone laws.

“I think it goes back to the freedom of speech,” said Hendrix. “People put on makeup while driving and I would think that would also be dangerous, but they are not making a law about that.”

Chrissy Krajcer, senior middle childhood education major, said she thinks all texting and driving is dangerous.

“No one can multi-task. It’s impossible to look at the phone and the road at the same time,” said Krajcer. “You are not just putting your life in danger; you are putting everyone else’s in danger.”

While texting and driving together can be life-threatening, there are reasons why texting and driving just do not work.

Dunlosky said multi-tasking is possible, but only if those tasks are really well-learned.

“While you are texting and driving you are using a lot of the same things. It is dangerous,” he said.


The city of Kent has started to discuss new legislation about a possible ban on cell phones while driving. If this new legislation would pass, the ordinance it would be the first of its kind in Portage County.

Ohio has not passed any statewide laws about the use of cell phones. Handheld phones are banned by jurisdiction. Ohio is very lenient about cell phone laws compared to states like New Jersey, where hand-held cell phones, along with texting, have been banned.


Driving and using a cell phone is not a problem confined to the United States. Countries around the world have laws banning cell phone use while driving.

According to cellular-news.com, a Web site that offers a list of cell phone driving laws shows more than 45 countries around the world have banned cell phone use while driving.

ww”In most of Europe it is illegal to use your cell phone while driving,” John Dunlosky, professor of psychology, said. “It will take a while for all of America to join in, but it will happen.”

Contact features reporter Rebecca Mohr at[email protected].