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Which is worse: drunk driving or distracted driving?

You'd be hard-pressed to find many people here in Maryland or even across the nation who dislike how easy technology has made our lives. From traffic information at our fingertips while sitting in the car to conversations with friends the world over, technology advancements have certainly given us better and faster access to the world around us.

Unfortunately, the increasing presence of tech devices in our everyday lives has not come without its downfall. Just six years ago, 5,474 were killed in motor vehicle accidents here in the United States where distracted driving was listed as the cause. Of those cases, the direct cause for 995 of them was cellphone use. It's because of statistics like this that we're asking this question:

Which is worse: drunk driving or distracted driving?

The answer, which probably isn't surprising, is that both behaviors are incredibly negligent, both resulting in hundreds if not thousands of serious and fatal crashes each year. Here's a look at why.

When a driver is distracted by a tech device, their full attention is no longer on their external environment. Instead, their attention is focused on the internal environment, interpreting what they are seeing on the device and figuring out what they want to do next. Researchers believe that taking your attention away from the road for even a couple of seconds can lead to disaster though.

Drunk drivers fair no better though. It's estimated that 28 people die each day in the U.S. in drunk-driving accidents. This happens because alcohol slows a driver's reaction time and can impair vision as well. As a result, drunk drivers, like distracted drivers, may not even realize that they are headed toward an accident until it is too late.

Whether you believe drunk driving is more dangerous than distracted driving or it's the other way around, remember that neither behavior is a good idea and should be avoided if avoiding a serious accident is also a desire of yours.

Sources:, "A Comparison of the Cell Phone Driver and the Drunk Driver," David L. Strayer, et al, Accessed Aug. 11, 2015

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Distracted Driving 2009," Sept. 2010, Accessed Aug. 11, 2015, "Drunk driving statistics," Accessed Aug. 11, 2015

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