Texting and driving is worse than first thought, a crash simulation study finds. In fact, it’s so dangerous that it doubles reaction times. The cell phone feature is banned in 34 states.
In the study, 42 people ages of 16 and 54 drove on an 11-mile test track while sending and receiving text messages. Throughout the course, a yellow light would randomly flash to indicate when the person behind the wheel needed to stop. Their reaction times were then recorded.
According to Christine Yager, who led the study at Texas AandM University’s Texas Transportation Institute, those who saw the flashing light and were not texting reacted within 1-2 seconds. On the other hand, drivers who were typing on their mobile devices did worse by reacting 3-4 seconds to the light. Those behind the wheel while using their cell phone were 11 times more likely to miss the light flash all together.
Yager points out other studies have been conducted using lab simulations, which recorded the reaction time to under one second for people who weren’t typing on their device and 1-2 seconds for those who were. She said her actual driving results are significant because at highway speeds, those few seconds can equate to the length of a football field.
Statistics from U.S. Transportation Department show 20% of all fatal accidents that occur involve distracted drivers. This matches to other statistic data that at least one in five motorists have admitted to texting while driving.
Texas AandM Transportation Institute spokesman Rick Davenport commented on the results, “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.”