Drunk driving and distracted driving share a lot of characteristics. In both cases, the driver cannot fully concentrate on driving safely. In both cases, they can cause accidents that could otherwise have been avoided easily. In both cases, too, other people can suffer serious injuries or even lose their lives.
But which one is worse?
By the numbers
Drunk driving is certainly an older issue. Distracted driving always existed, but the real uptick in the amount of accidents happened with the invention of the smartphone. Drunk driving has been around for as long as the automobile.
Some statistics show that drunk driving is still an issue that leads to more accidents and more fatalities. For instance, one report that came out in 2017 said that drunk driving took 10,265 lives in a single year, while distracted driving took only 3,477. Those figures do seem to indicate that drunk driving is the bigger issue.
Things to consider
There are a few important things to consider, however. The first is that the same report attributed 391,000 injuries to distracted driving and 290,000 injuries to drunk driving. More people got hurt, by a significant amount, even if fewer people lost their lives.
Another possible issue is that distracted driving is harder to prove. With drunk driving, the police can give out a breath test or a blood test after a deadly accident. They know the driver suffered from impairment. Plenty of people drive drunk without getting caught, but it’s relatively easy to catch those who get into serious accidents.
With distracted driving, the driver may simply deny it and police may have a hard time proving it. Unless they can get information about a text message getting sent or a social media post going up right at the time of the crash, it’s hard to prove that the driver was really distracted by the phone. There’s no way to test for that. The real amount of distracted driving deaths could be far higher, but drivers lie and try to cover up the issue after the wreck.
Finally, remember that drunk driving happens more often on the weekends and more often at night. You can tell when the roads will be the most dangerous; many people opt to simply avoid driving at these times. With distracted driving, it’s always a risk. Many accidents happen through the middle of the day. No matter when you get in your car, you’re in danger of getting hit by a distracted driver.
As you can see, you can argue that either distracted driving or drunk driving is the “worse” offense, but the reality is that they’re both bad. They both take lives. They both cause accidents. Those who get injured or lose loved ones must know their rights in Florida in either case.