Texting While Driving More Dangerous Than Previously Believed

Texting While Driving More Dangerous Than Previously Believed

Oct 08



Consumer Affairs
October 6, 2011

Original Link

Since cell phones became universal, drivers have had it drummed into them how dangerous it is to send and receive texts behinds the wheel. It turns out we didn’t know the half of it.

Researchers at the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) have concluded that a driver’s reaction time is doubled when distracted by reading or sending a text message. The study reveals how the texting impairment is even greater than many experts believed, and demonstrates how texting drivers are less able to react to sudden roadway hazards.

First study

The study is the first U.S. study to examine texting while driving in an actual driving environment – consisted of three major steps. First, participants typed a story of their choice (usually a simple fairy tale) and also read and answered questions related to another story, both on their smart phone in a laboratory setting.

Each participant then navigated a test-track course involving both an open section and a section lined by construction barrels. Drivers first drove the course without texting, then repeated both lab tasks separately while driving through the course again. Throughout the test-track exercise, each participant’s reaction time to a periodic flashing light was recorded.

Eleven times more likely to miss flashing lights

Reaction times with no texting activity were typically between one and two seconds. Reaction times while texting, however, were at least three to four seconds. Worse yet, drivers were more than 11 times more likely to miss the flashing light altogether when they were texting.

The researchers say that the study findings extend to other driving distractions that involve reading or writing, such as checking e-mail or Facebook.

“Most research on texting and driving has been limited to driving simulators. This study involved participants driving an actual vehicle,” said ChristineYager, an associate transportation researcher in TTI’s Center for Transportation Safety. “So one of the more important things we know now that we didn’t know before is that response times are even slower than we previously thought.”





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