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Texting While Driving Poses Threat of Injury, Study Finds

It’s no secret that texting while driving is dangerous. The act is distracting and slows a driver’s response time. Texting-related accidents have prompted dozens of states and the District of Columbia to ban texting while driving.

But a new study finds that texting while driving may be even more dangerous than previously thought. Texting or even just reading email on one’s phone can lead to car accidents and serious injury.

The study was conducted by researchers at Texas University’s Texas Transportation Institute recently. 42 drivers between the ages of 16 and 54 participated. They were instructed to drive around an 11-mile track course that had wide lanes, no hills and no pedestrians.

The drivers drove through the course once while sending or receiving text messages, and then again when they were focused solely on their driving. It should not be surprising that they drove better without distractions, but the difference was a little jarring.

During both sessions of driving, the motorists were asked to stop when they saw a flashing yellow light. Texting drivers had a reaction time of three to four seconds, while non-distracted drivers cut that time in half to one or two seconds, according to Reuters.

In addition, the texting drivers were found to be 11 times more likely to miss the flashing light completely. Some drivers even crashed into barrels on the course. While none were injured, there were apparently some close calls. Keep in mind this was without curving roads, traffic or other potential complications.

The study reinforces what we already know: texting while driving is extremely dangerous. There’s a good reason there are laws against it.

Source: Reuters, “Texting while driving more dangerous than previously thought: study,” Jim Forsyth, Oct. 5, 2011

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