A new study has shown that texting or emailing while driving is more dangerous than previously thought. According to Christine Yager, leader of the study from Texas A&M University's Texas Transportation Institute, texting while driving doubles a driver's reaction time. This makes drivers less able to respond to sudden roadway dangers.
In the study, 42 drivers betweent he ages of 16 and 54 drove an 11 mile test track course while sending and receiving texts and/or emails. The same test subjects then re-did the test course while completely focused on driving. On the course, drivers were instructed to stop when they saw a flashing yellow light. The reaction time was recorded for each driver. The study showed that the typical time it took a driver to stop that was not texting was 1 to 2 seconds. When the driver was distracted, the reaction time was on average 3 to 4 seconds. It was also shown that the texting driver was 11 times more likely to miss the flashing light altogether. Yager did state that the reaction time was the same regardless of whether the driver was sending a text or reading one. Yager says this study is different from previous studies on the same subject matter because participants were driving an actual car, not a simulator. It was also shown that the distracted drivers were more likely to swerve in the lanes, which can lead to accidents on actual highways.
The U.S. Transportation Department statistics show that distracted driving contributes to as much as 20% of all fatal crashes and that cell phones are the primary source of driver distractions. They also report that 1 in 5 motorists admit to texting while driving.
While many states are moving towards tougher legislation regarding texting while driving, it is important for each and every driver on the roadways to be aware of the dangers it poses. Distracted driving is an easy problem to solve, and in doing so, our roadways would be much safer.
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