Texting and Driving? You'd Be Safer Swimming With Sharks

Andrea Ford for AT&T

Distraction is a way of life in the 21st century, and it's dangerous. Thanks to technology, we're now accustomed — and at times are actually addicted — to a constant stream of micro-communication. This is the modern way of life, for better or worse, but there's one distracted behavior we can easily change: texting and driving.

Just a couple seconds with your eyes off the road threatens lives, not to mention those around you. At the current rate, 3,300 people are dying each year in distraction-related crashes. That's about nine people every day, making driving while distracted one of the most dangerous activities out there. Believe it or not, these extreme thrill-seeking activities are actually way safer than texting and driving.


With that in mind, AT&T is encouraging drivers to text the hashtag "#X" or post it on social media tell friends that they are about to start driving and can't text right now (you can read more about #X here). The campaign also features a free app, AT&T DriveMode, that will silence alerts while you're at the wheel. While there might be no hashtag to rescue you from the (very rare) rogue shark, with #X and DriveMode you have no excuse for texting and driving.

Instead of endangering yourself and everyone else on the road, why not try your hand at skydiving, scuba diving, skiing, or playing football — all activities that can be somewhat risky due to equipment failures, head injuries, or freak accidents. You know what, though? All these would be a safer choice than tapping on your phone while you're driving. Plus, they're probably a lot more fun.

Let's look at the numbers.

Scuba diving risk of death: 1 in 200,000 dives

The primary dangers of diving involve dysbarism, the name for the various medical conditions caused by changes in pressure. These include decompression sickness (aka "the bends") and pulmonary embolism.


Skydiving risk of death: 1 in 101,083 jumps

Since skydivers typically reach speeds of 110 to 130 mph in free-fall, a functioning and properly operated parachute is the difference between life and death. Landing at a high speed, whether because of faulty equipment or human error, can lead to broken bones and lethal spinal cord injuries.


Skiing risk of death 1 in 1.6 million visits

Head injuries are the most common cause of death from skiing, and while 70% of U.S. skiers now wear helmets (almost triple the number in 2003), fatalities have not declined.


American football risk of death: 1 in 182,184 participants

Although there is much discussion over the dangers of repeated head trauma (which can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE), the rate of death among football players is relatively low.



Distracted driving risk of death: 1 in 63,401 licensed drivers

While texting, a driver's eyes are off the road for an average of five seconds. This means that, in a car going 55 mph, you would drive the length of a football field while sending one text. It's not worth it.


Remember to use #X before you drive to pause the conversation until you arrive.

Andréa Ford is a freelance journalist covering technology and other topics. She has a specialty in infographics and previously wrote for TIME Magazine.


This post is a sponsored collaboration between It Can Wait and Studio@Gawker.

[Sources: Bandolier, Distraction.gov]

Illustrations by Todd Detwiler

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