Texting While Driving Increases Maryland Car Crash Risks, Confirm Psychologists

University of Utah psychologists are saying that texting while driving increases a motorist’s crash risk by six times. The study can be found in the latest edition of Human Factors, a journal.

According to the researchers, texting presents a 50% greater car crash risk than talking does. One reason for this is that reading or writing texts takes a driver’s attention completely off the road. Meantime, talking on the cell phone while driving at the same time divides the motorist’s attention between both tasks. However, this is not to say that it is safe to talk on the phone while operating an auto.

The study’s lead psychologist, Frank Drews, says that he and other researchers asked 20 motorists, ages 19 to 23, to drive in a “high fidelity driving simulator.” All of the participant drivers were seasoned texters.

The researchers say that compared to drivers who did not text or talk on the cell phone, motorists’ median reaction time went up 30% while they texted. Drivers’ median reaction time rose by 9% when talking on a cell phone. The study also reports that it is more distracting to read text messages than it is to compose them.

Distracted Driving Accidents

This past year, federal and state transportation safety officials have stepped up their efforts to make sure motorists are aware of how dangerous it is to text while driving. In September, Maryland’s statewide ban on sending texts while driving went into effect. Also that month, federal transportation officials kicked off a two-day distracted driving summit in Washington DC. This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched it’s distracted driving Web site, and President Obama’s executive order banning all federal workers from texting when driving goes into effect today.

Unfortunately, distracted driving continues to be a leading cause of Maryland car crashes. Like drunk driving accidents, distracted driving crashes are preventable.

Research: Texting while driving leads to six-fold increase in accidents, TopNews, December 22, 2009
Texting While Driving Raises Crash Risk Sixfold, BusinessWeek, December 21, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Cell Phone Driving Laws, Governors Highway Safety Association


Human Factors and Ergonomics Society

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