More Dangerous Than Drunks – Texting While Driving Doubles Reaction Times

Drivers who text are more dangerous than anyone thought,  and according to a new study by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University, the news is really, really bad.

If you’re a motorcyclist, the level of peril you face on the road is amped up considerably by driver’s texting while they operate their vehicles.

“Essentially texting while driving doubles a driver’s reaction time,” said Christine Yager.

The study followed 42 drivers between the ages of 16 and 54. The cagers toured an 11-mile-long test track course while sending or receiving text messages, and the pencilnecks then had them drive the same course again while the drivers focused their attention where it should be –  on the road. Drivers were told to stop when they saw a flashing yellow light, and their reaction times were recorded as part of the study.

Typically,  it took a driver who was not texting two seconds to respond to the flashing light. The bad news? When the driver was texting, the reaction time extended to three to four seconds, and the texting cager was 11 times more likely to miss the flashing light entirely.

Not exactly shocking results, but proof positive that when you’re riding your motorcycle on American roads, you’re out there swimming with the sharks.

According to Yager,  the reaction times were the same whether the driver was typing a message or reading one.

“The act of reading and writing a text message are equally impairing and equally dangerous,” Yager said.

If you spend any time riding at all, you know drivers who text are a common sight and pose a huge risk to pedestrians and motorcyclists.

Texting drivers in the study were also more likely to swerve in their lane.

“We had participants strike barrels, and it is very scary to think that this is happening on our public roadways,” said Yager.

Government statistics show distracted driving contributes to as many as 20 percent of all fatal crashes and cites cell phones use as the main distraction.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, as it stands now, text messaging while driving is prohibited in 34 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. An additional seven states legally prohibit texting while driving for some classes of  motorists like drivers under the age of 18 or bus drivers.

Our conclusion is simple. It’s time the legislature and the police treated texting while driving just as harshly, if not more so, than drunk driving. The results are clear, and if the Powers That Be are actually concerned about highway safety and not grandstanding for the Nanny State, MADD faction, they’ll address this dangerous practice post haste.

While it may not have the easy popularity achieved by sweeping the streets for drunks, catching people who are clearly not paying attention to the road should be a major priority, and it’s time legislators and the police actually earned their pay in this regard…

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  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist to protect us when the other driver is at-fault and does not have coverage or assets out of which your bills can be paid.

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6 Responses

  1. Let them Text and drive. They will be gone soon enough.

  2. springer says:

    Read Daniel Simons book, “The Invisible Gorilla.”
    Having a ‘hands-free device’ doesn’t make talking while driving any safer. The problem has nothing to do with having one vs two hands on the wheel. The problem is that we are all incapable of being fully aware of the aspects of our world that fall outside our current focus of attention.
    We operate under the illusion that we’ll see something unexpected (car stopped ahead, ball rolling into street) but studies and real life occurrences show we often don’t, even when staring directly at the object. It just doesn’t register. When you’re focusing on your call, you experience far less in your visual world than you think you do. Ever been surprised how quickly the car trip passes when you’re chatting on the phone…like you’ve been on autopilot and arrived suddenly at your destination?
    I used to call family and friends on my hour drive home, but now I keep my phone in the trunk. I also refuse to talk to someone if they’re driving a car…I tell them to call back when they’re no longer driving.
    Think how you’d feel if you’re chatting with your son, daughter, mom, dad while they’re driving and they kill themselves or someone else.
    It isn’t worth it.

  3. rideit says:

    I hope they CAN enforce this law, at least to a degree. I’m sorry, I cannot think of any reason to be texting while you’re driving. And there’s no way anyone can adequately keep their attention on their driving while texting.

  4. recerocker says:

    How about this? “87 percent of drivers expressed support for having a law against reading, typing or sending a text message or email while driving … [and] 95 percent of drivers view texting or emailing by other drivers as a serious threat to their own personal safety … 35 percent of those same drivers also admitted to having read or sent a text message or email in the previous month” Scary.

  5. sportbkr says:

    i have either seen more people praying in their cars or they are texting,and i know it is the latter,or how many left turns do people miss because they are poking on facebook? since most cops HAVE to sit and wait for speeders to get money this should be a huge influx of money in the coffers and keep them busier.

  6. T-rumph says:

    that is the exact same test the germans did last year and they proved on TV that the driver is distracted enough that some serious poop could happen, if you must text while driving do the smart thing and pull over and should a reply come in , pull over again, me i reply and tell them to leave me alone because i am driving and expected to be at my destination in X minutes/hours