Did you know that Dallas drivers text while driving? Apparently, WFAA didn’t believe it – which is why they spent an hour yesterday sitting at Northwest Highway and Preston counting commuters.
This new study from WFAA comes a couple days after new legislation banning texting while driving passed the Texas House of Representatives. By their math, over 500 commuters text while driving during the lunch hour on Tuesdays at that Dallas intersection. Which actually makes me wonder whether texting while driving is really that big a deal. 500 texting instances in one location in one hour – and how many wrecks? Zero.
According to Distraction.gov, roughly 308,874 people were killed or injured in 2009 from distracted driving (including, but not limited to, texting behind the wheel). That equates to roughly 35 per hour – nationwide. Let’s be fair and divide that number by 50 states (and round up because Texas is larger) – that’s 1 person killed or injured every hour in Texas as a result of distracted driving. Texas has 254 counties. Essentially, this means that in each county, 1 person is injured or killed every 250+ hours (10 days) as a result of distracted driving.
I’m not going to try and count how many major intersections (like Preston & Northwest Highway) Dallas County has – but let’s be really, really conservative and say 500. Assuming traffic is steady for 8 hours a day, that means that 500 people are texting every hour for 8 hours at 500 intersections – or 2,000,000 instances of texting while driving per day in Dallas county. There is one distraction-related accident injury or death every 10 days – so 20,000,000 instances of texting while driving have to occur for one wreck to occur. That’s a 0.00000005 risk.
Texting while driving suddenly doesn’t seem that big a deal. Maybe, instead of banning texting while driving, we should incorporate proper texting while driving techniques into student driving programs.
Or maybe… maybe even one injury or death as a result of negligence is unacceptable. Maybe a law that “inconveniences” several to save one isn’t that bad an idea. Maybe paying attention to the road – regardless of how insignificant the risk seems – maybe it’s just the right thing to do.
Drive safely, Dallas.