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In Study, Texting Lifts Crash Risk By Large Margin

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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/28/technolo...mp;ref=business

The first study of drivers texting inside their vehicles shows that the risk sharply exceeds previous estimates based on laboratory research — and far surpasses the dangers of other driving distractions.

The new study, which entailed outfitting the cabs of long-haul trucks with video cameras over 18 months, found that when the drivers texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which compiled the research and plans to release its findings on Tuesday, also measured the time drivers took their eyes from the road to send or receive texts.

In the moments before a crash or near crash, drivers typically spent nearly five seconds looking at their devices — enough time at typical highway speeds to cover more than the length of a football field.

Even though trucks take longer to stop and are less maneuverable than cars, the findings generally applied to all drivers, who tend to exhibit the same behaviors as the more than 100 truckers studied, the researchers said. Truckers, they said, do not appear to text more or less than typical car drivers, but they said the study did not compare use patterns that way.

Compared with other sources of driver distraction, “texting is in its own universe of risk,†said Rich Hanowski, who oversaw the study at the institute.

Mr. Hanowski said the texting analysis was financed by $300,000 from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which has the mission of improving safety in trucks and buses. More broadly, the research yielding the results represent a significant logistical undertaking.

The overall cost was $6 million to equip the trucks with video cameras and track them for three million miles as they hauled furniture, frozen foods and other goods across the country.

The final analysis of the data is undergoing peer review before formal publication.

Tom Dingus, director of the Virginia Tech institute, one of the world’s largest vehicle safety research organizations, said the study’s message was clear.

“You should never do this,†he said of texting while driving. “It should be illegal.â€

Thirty-six states do not ban texting while driving; 14 do, including Alaska, California, Louisiana and New Jersey. New York legislators have sent a bill to Gov. David A. Paterson. But legislators in some states have rejected such rules, and elected officials say they need more data to determine whether to ban the activity.

One difficulty in measuring crashes caused by texting drivers — and by drivers talking on phones — is that many police agencies do not collect this data or have not compiled long-term studies. Texting also is a relatively new phenomenon.

Wow rocket science this if you drive and distract yourself your more likely to crash.

Can I have my PHD now please.

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Amazed it isn't already illegal, accompanied with a life time ban from driving. Seen quite a few texting at the wheel admittedly whilst stopped at the lights. Don't know what is more dangerous, people texting or me getting distracted by other people texting!

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Amazed it isn't already illegal, accompanied with a life time ban from driving. Seen quite a few texting at the wheel admittedly whilst stopped at the lights. Don't know what is more dangerous, people texting or me getting distracted by other people texting!

The quoted article was from the USA where, i think, it is not illegal to drive while using a mobile phone, although from my reading of thier press it appears to be a current topic of discussion.

Battle lines as with guns - in the land of the free you should be free to phone while driving vs you can kill people doing that.

You may recall the case a year or two ago of the woman imprisoned for mowing down a cyclist while text-driving. Americans on another forum I frequent were quite surprised to find out that the UK law could do this. Much debate ensued, from both sides.

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