This isn’t just an American disease. LOL. But texting can wait in the new year

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL December 30, 2013

imagesH44SQC2EIf there’s just one New Year resolution you make, it should be this: No texting while driving. You don’t have to wait to watch Werner Herzog’s haunting 35-minute film to know, in your bones, the terrible consequences. In 2011, 3,331 Americans died in distracted driving accidents, up from 3,267 in 2010. Here, there are other, similarly stark US statistics that underline the dreadful temptation and terrible risk of texting while taking your eyes off the road (the equivalent of driving blind) for a crucial five seconds.

These include:

  • 1,600,000 accidents per year, according to the National Safety Council
  • 330,000 injuries per year according to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study
  • nearly 25% of all car accidents

Texting while driving is about six times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated and is pretty much as dangerous as driving inebriated (after four beers). It makes you 23 times more likely to crash and slows brake reaction speed by 18%.

And it’s not just an American affliction. As Mr Herzog’s painfully accurate film, ‘From One Second to the Next’, shows, life can change in a split second for anyone, anywhere. The film opens with a wheelchair-bound young boy, Xavier. He was paralysed from the diaphragm down after a woman driver flew through the red lights in Wisconsin, texting to someone “On my way”. Xavier could just have easily have been in Delhi or Doha or Port au Prince. We’ve all seen drivers take their eyes off the road to read a text message. Sometimes, we may have done so ourselves.

That last sentence raises interesting issues. Discuss texting while driving with almost anyone and chances are, they will solemnly tell you that they never ever mix the two.

But surely someone somewhere is always at risk of injuring someone like Xavier. Recognising that it might be me was Mr Herzog’s challenge. He delivered magnificently.