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New Study Reveals Texting While Driving Is Highly Dangerous, Even More so Than Previously Thought

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October 06, 2011

New Study Reveals Texting While Driving Is Highly Dangerous, Even More so Than Previously Thought

By Jamie Epstein, TMCnet Web Editor

Not only are there a million horrible drivers on the road surrounding you on a daily basis, but you also have drivers who insist on completing other tasks instead of paying attention to the road, including eating, putting on makeup, even tweezing their eyebrows. However, one task— texting  or emailing while driving stands out from the rest in its level of danger, causing the loss of countless innocent lives.

"Essentially texting while driving doubles a driver's reaction time," Christine Yager said in a statement, a leader of a just released study from Texas A&M University's Texas Transportation Institute."That makes a driver less able to respond to sudden roadway dangers."

The research consisted of around 42 drivers, ranging between the ages of 16 and 54, who were watched as they drove along merrily on an 11-mile test track course while either sending or receiving text messages. The drivers then took to the track for a second time, this time using all of their concentration to focus on the road.

Yager revealed that drivers were told to stop when they saw a flashing yellow light, and then subsequently their reaction times were recorded, according to Reuters.

The experiment showed that a driver who was not texting took two seconds to respond to the flashing light, however when the driver was texting, the reaction time extended to around three to four seconds. In addition, the motorist busy texting about what they had for breakfast was 11 times more likely to completely blow the flashing light. Pretty scary facts if you ask this editor.

"The act of reading and writing a text message are equally impairing and equally dangerous," Yager added.

How do these conclusions prove anything different than previous studies? Reuters (News - Alert) reported that Yager said the research differed from previous studies for the fact that it used actual participants to drive real vehicles, not driving simulators.

Yager commented, "Even though we had participants drive at 30 miles an hour with very wide lanes on the test track, we still had many close calls. We had participants strike barrels, and it is very scary to think that this is happening on our public roadways."

The U.S. Transportation Department has revealed that distracted driving can cause up to as much as 20 percent of all fatal crashes, and that cell phones are usually the reason for these drivers being distracted.

Already banned in 34 states and the District of Columbia while driving, text messaging can cause a large amount of destruction that can easily be avoided just by pulling over to the side of the road.

Jamie Epstein is a TMCnet Web Editor. Previously she interned at News 12 Long Island as a reporter's assistant. After working as an administrative assistant for a year, she joined TMC (News - Alert) as a Web editor for TMCnet. Jamie grew up on the North Shore of Long Island and holds a bachelor's degree in mass communication with a concentration in broadcasting from Five Towns College. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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