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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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