The acronym DWT stands for driving while texting, and it is a controversial topic. This behavior is most prevalent among younger drivers. Only about 2% of drivers in the US over the age of 44 will read or text messages while they’re operating a vehicle. In contrast, about 37% of drivers between the ages off 18-27 text and drive, and teen drivers are most likely to commit DWT, with about 46% admitting to doing so regularly.
Driving while texting is costly in a number of ways, so much so that there are now states in the US that prohibit the behavior or that level fines against those found to DWT. This behavior, even when people are able to keep one free hand on the steering wheel, is called driver distraction, and there are interesting estimates about how driving distraction may be dangerous. In US government believes that approximately 30% of car crashes result from driver distraction, and while they aren’t all due to DWT, there are certain known cases of fatal crashes that have occurred when someone was busy texting instead of keeping their focus on the road.
Though not all states or countries have made driving while texting illegal, it still may have hidden costs. Some insurance companies will not process claims if the driver has been found to be texting when an accident occurred. It’s fairly easy to verify if texts have been received or sent during an accident.
There are some that argue that driving while texting is not nearly as distracting as other behaviors that are not considered illegal. For instance reading a newspaper, putting on makeup, or yelling at the kids in the back of the car to stop fighting might just as easily provide significant distraction to cause an accident. Yet people who are distracted in these ways usually don’t get penalized. Others state that the whole point is that drivers need to remain focused on their primary task when driving, which is to drive safely and not get in an accident if at all avoidable. Any behavior that might constitute a distraction should be discouraged, but driving while texting and driving while on the cellphone are usually the easiest to catch and legislate.
To address the issue that some people may need to respond to texts or emails while driving, there are some technologies and innovations that may help. Some people can subscribe to services that will read out texts and send texts via the directions of the driver. Companies are increasingly offering transcription services, which can convert texts into voice mails and use voice recognition software to answer texts. These are not perfect but they may pose a solution for those who need to answer a text immediately. People who don’t have access to these services may simply want to pull over when they hear the familiar beep that signifies a new text so that they can read any important messages and answer them as needed.