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Is DUI or Driving on a Cell Phone More Dangerous?

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If you ask anyone on the street what the most dangerous thing they could think of doing while driving, you’d most likely receive one of two answers: driving drunk and driving while using a cell phone.

It’s no secret how dangerous both of these actions can be

Both cause serious accidents, major property loss, and devastating injuries. However, despite their similarities, they’re not often compared. In this blog, we’ll examine both of these behaviors and figure out which one more common as well as which one is more dangerous.


A recent Harvard study aimed to answer this exact question: which is more dangerous? The results were shockingly similar: drunk driving and driving while using a cell phone exhibited very similar results. Drivers who used their cell phone tended to brake too slowly, drive slower, and vary their following distance by as much as 24 percent. Intoxicated drivers tended to be slower to resume normal speed after braking, followed the vehicle in front of them far more aggressively (tailgating), and slammed on their brakes far harder than those using the phone.

When it comes to cell phones, hands-free doesn’t necessarily mean safer either. Using speech-to-text, Bluetooth, and other technology to try to limit a driver’s distraction level actually did very little to improve a driver’s attention to the road in front of them, and the risk only increased a small amount.

Overall, drunk drivers exhibited very similar behavior across several tests, including studies conducted by Texas A&M and the University of Utah. Each of these tests produced nearly identical results to the Harvard study by using the same methodology: drivers were placed into a simulator, asked to follow a pace car, and avoid the hazards they encountered.

However, there was one major separation found by the University of Utah. While the drunk drivers tended to tailgate and slam on their brakes harder to compensate, none of them rear ended the pace car in front of them. However, several of the cell phone users did rear-end the pace car. So really, with that being the only separating factor, it kinds seems logical to declare using a cell phone while driving the more dangerous behavior.

Of course, this is not to say driving drunk is okay. The only way to truly be a winner when it comes to texting and driving or driving drunk is to not do either of these things. Not only are they both illegal in California, but they significantly increase the chances of a major accident and serious injuries. If you have been arrested for drunk driving, it’s important that you reach out to an Encino DUI attorney for assistance with protecting your rights and fighting back against your charges.


Call the Law Offices of Scott R. Spindel today at (888) 973-0209 to request a free in-person consultation.

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