Driving + Texting = Six Times More Likely to Crash

A new study from the University of Utah finds that people who send text messages while driving are six times more likely to get involved in a car accident.

It appears that drivers who were text messaging while driving were responsible for 86% of the crashes occurred while operating the vehicle, compared to only 14% for participants who were driving without distractions.

Text messaging did not only have an impact on collisions, it also affected general driving skills.  It was found that participants took more time in responding to the brake onset when driving and text messaging compared to participants who were driving only.  Moreover, text messaging drivers had more inadvertent lane changes than drivers-only participants as they were unable to focus on their driving task while receiving and sending text messages.

According the authors:

“Activities such as text-messaging that require task switching and are often performed for extended periods severely impair driving performance.” In their article for the journal Human Factors, the researchers also point that “when drivers have switched their attention to the text-messaging task, that is, composing or reading or receiving a message, their reaction times to braking events are substantially higher, reflecting a substantial cost of task switching.”

Their finding could, as they mention, “have important practical implications for in-vehicle technology. For example, systems reading messages out loud could support drivers”

Source: Text Messaging During Simulated Driving, Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, December 16, 2009

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