Study shows texting while driving can be deadly

May 4, 2009

A new study confirms what most people already know: sending text messages and driving are a potentially lethal combination.

Twenty-one using a driving simulator while sending text messages or searching their MP3s slowed down, wove in an out of their lanes, and, in some cases, ran over pedestrians, according to a study presented to the Pediatric Academic Societies on Saturday, May 2.

While the most significant finding was that the distracted teens wove and changed their driving speed dramatically (other teens ran over pedestrians as well at a slightly lower rate), those behaviors can clearly pose a danger both to the drivers and others around them.

"It's good for us to increase community awareness that this can be a problem," said LaPrecious Harrold, M.D., a resident physician at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) and Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters (CHKD) in Norfolk, Va.

This study comes as legislators nationwide debate how and whether to regulate texting-while-driving.
The study restricted itself to teens, a population of drivers already at significantly risk. Motor are leading cause of death for people between 16 and 20, accounting for more than 5,000 deaths each year, according to the CDC. And teens are four times more likely than older drivers to be involved in a crash.

The study included 21 subjects between 16 and 18 years of age with at least six months driving experience. Anyone diagnosed with an attention disorder or with history of unsafe driving was excluded, as were teens who reported use of alcohol or excessive amounts of caffeine.

Each driver completed four separate 10-minute driving blocks: Undistracted, talking on a cell phone, text messaging and using an MP3 player. Each 10-minute block was separated into two separate scenarios, rural and urban.

The results for the teens sending text messages or fiddling with their MP3 players showed increased "lane position deviation" and speed changes, mostly slowing down.

"What this study demonstrates is that not only does your speed go up and down, you're swinging wide left and right," said Donald Lewis, M.D., vice president of academic affairs at CHKD and chairman of the EVMS Department of Pediatrics. "You're a hazardous driver, to yourself and everybody else."

Source: Eastern Virginia Medical School

Explore further: Rural drivers using cell phones are likely to cause accidents

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not rated yet May 04, 2009
Please tell me taxpayer money wasn't used to fund this "study."
not rated yet May 04, 2009
Just last week I was behind someone on the highway that kept driving off the road. Sometimes literally ALL the way off the road. Once I was able to get past him, YUP. He was texting on the highway.

But we all ready know that texting while driving is hazardous...... So instead of funding studies, why don't we fund call centers to report violators. I would have gladly memorized his license plate and car type if I knew there was some place that I could call later and report him. Same with putting on makeup while driving, paying attention to eating instead of driving, and arguing while driving, or anything that causes a person to be a hazard. Problem is, the only way I now know of reporting things like this, is to call 911 right at that moment. Which puts you in an equal hazard.

Maybe insurance companies could fund this. Call a number later, when it is safe for you. Report the license #, and car details, and time of viewing. Then they pull the persons cell phone records and nab them.
not rated yet May 04, 2009
big suprise! now I only submit messages from my computer. Most people don't know you can do it, but it's safer and free. there are plenty of sites, but I use just because I think its easier and I can send to groups of people.
not rated yet May 04, 2009
Um, I remember a road safety questionnaire that asked how long was safe to take your attention off the road: 10 secs ? 5 secs ? 3 secs ? 2 secs ? 1 sec ? Correct answer was half a second...

This was eased slightly by using good peripheral vision and anticipation, but consensus was you gotta insert 'paranoid' chip when grabbing car key...

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