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Recording of the tests  (Source: Virgina Tech Transportation Institute)
Sending or receiving text messages while driving is more dangerous than originally believed

As more states consider outright bans of talking on cell phones or texting while driving, a new study indicates sending and receiving text messages while driving dramatically increases the likelihood of an accident.

"You should never do this," Virginia Institute Director Tom Dingus said.  "It should be illegal."

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute studied truck drivers for 18 months, recording driving habits of 100 long-haul truck drivers.  The long-term study discovered the habits of truck drivers is very similar to regular everyday drivers,  Specifically, the study looked into the amount of time drivers spend reading or writing text messages -- immediately prior to an accident, participants spent almost five seconds looking at their cell phone. The results of the study showed that drivers who texted were 23 times more likely to get into an accident than drivers who didn’t text.

The study will eventually be published, but is now undergoing peer review.

People driving a regular car are 1-2 times as likely to get into a motor accident while using their phone and driving.  Other studies indicate the use of Bluetooth headsets -- allowing for "hands-free" driving -- doesn't reduce the risk of accidents, with research indicating it's the distraction of having a conversation on the phone, not holding it, that is dangerous.

Fourteen states across the United States have banned texting while driving, with a dozen or so other states looking into similar laws.  Texting is still such a new phenomenon that lawmakers are now just beginning to catch up to the technology.  A soon-to-be published survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates 95 percent of drivers believe texting is unacceptable, though 21 percent admit to texting while driving.

However, there are some states that require additional information research to be done before banning texting, while lawmakers in other states have rejected creating such legislation.  Any lawmakers looking for more information likely won't have to wait long, as there are a handful of universities and research groups working on additional studies related to texting and driving.

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Proper term...
By smackababy on 7/28/2009 8:10:43 AM , Rating: 5
It should be collision, as accident implys noone is at fault. Clearly, if texting is raising the risk, they are at fault for not paying attention.

RE: Proper term...
By SoulBlighter on 7/28/2009 9:11:33 AM , Rating: 4
We have examples around us, all we need to do is look into them. Recently i watch documentary about Autobahn Road Germany. Cars drive at avg 100mph, and yet they have better records than herein US. The reason simply being more restriction doing other tasks while driving and also education people about it.

RE: Proper term...
By Moishe on 7/28/2009 10:18:13 AM , Rating: 4
I'm (and my car) are perfectly capable of driving those speeds regularly. All it requires is paying attention. Unfortunately some people in the US have grown up being very nonchalant about driving, and we now have generations of lazy people who don't give a crap.

More strict and more frequent training would help a lot I think. Add a more strictly enforced set of laws and it should go a long way toward making long term changes in how Americans see driving, which should increase safety.

RE: Proper term...
By djcameron on 7/28/2009 10:51:49 AM , Rating: 5
Not exactly. I lived in Germany for many years and the reason the Autobahn has a lower accident rate is mostly due to its design. They bank the corners, have minimum radius, and maximum grades. You won't see places where the road rises and dips creating "the edge of the Earth" effect that causes American drivers to slow or slam on their brakes as they go over the top for fear that there is a traffic jam on the other side. In short, it's designed for higher speed driving.

RE: Proper term...
By Jimbo1234 on 7/28/2009 1:24:30 PM , Rating: 2
The autobahn was actually designed for military transport, not high speed driving.

RE: Proper term...
By acase on 7/28/2009 9:21:45 AM , Rating: 1
...and here I though "accident" just meant it wasn't something someone did on purpose. You can still be at fault even if you didn't mean to do it.

RE: Proper term...
By Tsuwamono on 7/28/2009 10:14:30 AM , Rating: 4
You mean when you tailgate someone and they slam on the brakes and its your fault?

got news for you.. thats your fault. You should have used the 2 second rule. Personally I use 3 seconds but thats because I drive a Cherokee on 31s so my stopping speed is alittle diminished

RE: Proper term...
By acase on 7/28/2009 10:29:16 AM , Rating: 2
Not really what I meant, no. But even in that case it could be considered an accident. Sure you are an idiot for following so close, and it is undoubtedly your fault that it happened, but in most cases I'm sure you didn't TRY to ram into the back of them (aka an ACCIDENT).

RE: Proper term...
By smackababy on 7/28/2009 10:34:29 AM , Rating: 2
It was caused due to your negligence. That is not an accident. An accident is having your tire blow out and wrecking.

RE: Proper term...
By Verran on 7/29/2009 1:29:19 PM , Rating: 2
So are you implying that anything that is your fault was intentional?

I mean that's the inverse, right? Accidental and intentional?

Let's use the drunk driving example. Guy gets drunk and drives and kills some kids. Yes, he's a douche. Yes, he's at fault. Yes, you can use any number of horrible phrases to describe him. But does that mean that when he woke up that morning he intended to kill those kids?

No. It was still an accident because he didn't intend to do it.

Just because you're at fault doesn't mean it wasn't an accident.

RE: Proper term...
By Tsuwamono on 7/28/2009 10:37:36 AM , Rating: 2
so that means the drunk driver that blew through a red light and took out the group of school children walking home was simply an accident?

I'm sure he didn't TRY to bowl with the children, it just happened.

RE: Proper term...
By acase on 7/28/2009 10:42:33 AM , Rating: 3
Exactly. Now you're getting it!

a: an unfortunate event resulting especially from carelessness or ignorance b: an unexpected and medically important bodily event especially when injurious <a cerebrovascular accident> c: an unexpected happening causing loss or injury which is not due to any fault or misconduct on the part of the person injured but for which legal relief may be sought - Merriam-Webster

RE: Proper term...
By djcameron on 7/28/2009 10:56:26 AM , Rating: 3
Yesterday, I was nearly run off the road by some young, dumb woman that was talking on the cell phone in one hand, while smoking a cigarette with the other hand (holding it out the window when not taking a drag).

RE: Proper term...
By Gyres01 on 7/28/2009 12:30:58 PM , Rating: 2
It took a real smart guy to figure that out huh ?? Ban it and the states can make plenty of money trying to catch everyone and give tickets......

RE: Proper term...
By rippleyaliens on 7/29/2009 10:34:06 PM , Rating: 2
My thing on the matter.. is Out law it.. But that is just my thoughts on it. Text all ya want. IF ya hit my car, and i LIVE, you better have fullllll coverage insurance.. I could use some days off, new parts on meh ride. If by chance your texting while drivine, drinking, yelling, whatever.. and i get hurt, or WORSE, my Family gets hurt.. That little $25 in electronics, will cost you very dearly.. Dearly meaning , FORGET the law, and courts. EYE for EYE is what i believe in. FOR if some idge hits someone in my family, and said idget was texting.. I hope that the SAID IDGET has a very good self defense strategy..

LAWS are created to prevent said kind of stuff.. BUT We are all humans,, and P-A-Y-B-A-C-K, Is a human emotion. It makes me laugh when people just do stupid things, and yell out that they are protected by the law.. BUT ARE YA PROTECTED by an angry citizen???

Mysteriously Obvious
By MrPeabody on 7/28/2009 9:26:21 AM , Rating: 4
At first I thought: Really? They really needed a study to figure this out?

So I polled a bunch of my co-workers, and discovered that over 70% of those polled have texted numerous times while driving. Every single one of them insisted that they're just fine doing so.

Then I thought: Good Lord, they really do need a study to figure this out.

RE: Mysteriously Obvious
By Tsuwamono on 7/28/2009 10:40:18 AM , Rating: 2
Hense why I refuse to drive a tiny ass coffin car. My Cherokee with Solid 1/4 inch steel bumpers is my protection from idiots like these.

RE: Mysteriously Obvious
By xsilver on 7/28/2009 12:43:13 PM , Rating: 3
and what about when YOU get in an accident and kill someone innocent in a "coffin" car?

this mentality irks me...

RE: Mysteriously Obvious
By Solandri on 7/28/2009 4:08:09 PM , Rating: 3
Hense why I refuse to drive a tiny ass coffin car. My Cherokee with Solid 1/4 inch steel bumpers is my protection from idiots like these.

An SUV is really not any safer than regular cars. They do provide more safety in regular accidents, but the benefit is completely canceled out by their tendency to roll over.

RE: Mysteriously Obvious
By frobizzle on 7/28/2009 10:50:08 AM , Rating: 2
And Brawndo contains electrolytes. Plants crave them!

RE: Mysteriously Obvious
By ggordonliddy on 7/28/2009 6:14:00 PM , Rating: 2
Delicious AND nutritious. Almost as good as bloody liquified poo, but will do in a pinch.

RE: Mysteriously Obvious
By Shadrack2 on 7/29/2009 8:43:51 AM , Rating: 2
I see so many 20 somethings getting in their car, popping open the cell phone and making a 6 point turn to back out of their parking space in the run of a day that I was beginning to think their cars were voice activated.

You can do your own informal study by counting the number of people you see yapping on cell phones with the side of their car smashed in.

I have to get into the autobody business, or better yet the senseless study racket. I wonder if I could get a gov. grant to study the effects of alcohol on promiscuous college girls?

No @$#@ Sherlock
By LRonaldHubbs on 7/28/2009 8:09:59 AM , Rating: 3
"You should never do this," Virginia Institute Director Tom Dingus said.

Any task that requires you to divert your eyes from the road is obviously a terrible idea. Adjusting the radio is one thing, talking on the phone is another, but texting while driving is just begging for a crash.

RE: No @$#@ Sherlock
By tastyratz on 7/28/2009 8:40:11 AM , Rating: 2
Yea I have a hard time with dialing a phone if I have to make a call even when I am low speed no traffic... I DON'T like looking down for longer than 1 digit lol.

Texting? My ex used to do that when driving. Drove me BEYOND batty. That is just STUPID asking for an accident if your dumb enough to do it.

RE: No @$#@ Sherlock
By xsilver on 7/28/09, Rating: -1
RE: No @$#@ Sherlock
By Tsuwamono on 7/28/2009 10:30:13 AM , Rating: 2
My girlfriend drove properly after she got her license for maybe 3 months then started talking while driving and then started texting while driving. 5 years later and she still does it.

Shes a good driver no doubt, the only time she doesnt have my complete confidence is in the winter. For some reason she just can't get a hold of the idea of NOT braking when you hit snow or ice.

RE: No @$#@ Sherlock
By Jimbo1234 on 7/28/2009 1:28:45 PM , Rating: 2
Well the problem is that the ones most likely to text are the noob teenagers. So that makes is 23 x 10 times worse! Yeah, I just made that stat up, but it's probably not that far off. Maybe I should do a study.

RE: No @$#@ Sherlock
By xsilver on 7/28/2009 2:52:17 PM , Rating: 1
But thats the thing - the discrimination is based on age and not performance?

I mean say you could still drive better than a normal person can while legally drunk or while texting (eg. good enough to pass a driving exam).
Wouldnt it bother you that the policeman gives you a mouthful while someone who is not texting or intoxicated is just driving stupidly along the road? I mean its not 100% practical but just something to think about.
No doubt though that stupid drivers still think they are good drivers and hence why they still drive intoxicated / text while driving.

RE: No @$#@ Sherlock
By tastyratz on 7/29/2009 1:34:08 PM , Rating: 2
So what do you suggest? A driver rating system on the license?

Traffic laws are to protect the general public as a consensus... The general driving public are mindless lemmings... The same laws apply to everyone which means the better drivers cant drive to their ability and the worst drivers struggle... its a midpoint.

ANYONE texting is dangerous no matter HOW good of a driver you are. You are only as good of a driver as you are aware of your surroundings... and if your texting your not looking up which means lower reaction times, etc. Its a stupid move no matter how cocky you are.

Nobody does these things thinking they are doing something dangerous... or they wouldn't do them. They do them thinking they are "just fine" till they mow down a kid in the crosswalk

RE: No @$#@ Sherlock
By MonkeyPaw on 7/28/2009 6:08:16 PM , Rating: 4
I dunno, I think it can be done. I post stuff on DT all the time while driving, and I never

RE: No @$#@ Sherlock
By lco45 on 7/28/2009 10:58:38 PM , Rating: 2
Nice one.


Needs Perspective
By DtTall on 7/28/2009 12:35:10 PM , Rating: 1
These findings are interesting, but not surprising.

The one thing that I find myself doing (properly or not) is dismissing some of these findings because there is no baseline to compare against .

Compared to a mature adult paying 100% attention to driving, how many times more likely are they to get into an accident if:

1) They are talking to a passenger (front seat)
2) They are arguing with a passenger (front seat)
3) They are looking at a map/GPS (or if they are programming it)
4) They are changing the radio station (FM vs. XM)
5) They are listening to the radio w/ music
6) They are listening to the radio w/ a talk show

Without answers to these questions (or similar) I don't see how we can make a judgment about how bad texting is.

Yes, it is bad, but I think we need context before we start legislating against it.

RE: Needs Perspective
By acase on 7/28/2009 12:50:54 PM , Rating: 2
Very true. I mean, I can generally text with T9 with only having to glance for a fraction of a second to make sure it picked the word I meant. It distracts me no more then glancing at the clock, radio station, speedometer, cleavage of the girl running on the sidewalk, etc.

RE: Needs Perspective
By Jimbo1234 on 7/28/2009 1:32:40 PM , Rating: 2
1) The passenger in the front seat sees mostly what the driver does and is aware of hazards on the road. Unless they want to win a Darwin award, they will pause the conversation when it interferes with the driver's concentration.

RE: Needs Perspective
By peldor on 7/28/2009 3:59:16 PM , Rating: 2
In the last VTTI published study (2006), passenger-related distraction was involved in more rear end collisions than cell phone use of any kind (N=0). As did looking at side mirrors, eating, and daydreaming.

The big hole in the last published study was that there was no information on the frequency of non-events. How much time was spent talking to passengers or eating or using a cell phone when nothing noteworthy occurred? You need that data to actually compare relative risks. Otherwise you bias the results against the more common actions.

By uhgotnegum on 7/28/2009 10:12:50 AM , Rating: 2
Full disclosure: I'm not a scientist, studyologist, or Virginian

Keeping those in mind, why does a study of truck drivers seamlessly transition into Hondamom and Toyotateen drivers (not intentionally going with "foreign" car companies...just coincidence)? First, the license requirements are totally different. Second, a truck driver is driving all the time, for long periods of time, which is not typically the case for your average driver (e.g., of course a truck driver is more likely to text while driving...if he didn't he'd have to wait until he stopped, which could be many hours). Third, a truck driver's truck is nothing like driving a compact or full-sized car, or even an SUV for that matter, and one's habits behind the wheel of each may or may not have any impact on one's ability to maneuver, see, anticipate, or otherwise drive that vehicle.

I'm not trying to argue that texting is safe and harmless, because intuitively I don't think it is, but I just don't see this study being that relevant to me...

By uhgotnegum on 7/28/2009 10:18:23 AM , Rating: 2
One more thing...I think the author needs to put "truck" in front of all references to "driver" in the article (except for the obvious ones about the habits being similar to normal drivers...). I personally find it intentionally misleading to refer to the study as being about truck drivers and then simply refer to "drivers" throughout the rest of the article...OR, do what we do in the legal field, define the word (capital D) "Driver" as "truck driver".

By DotNetGuru on 7/28/2009 3:48:14 PM , Rating: 2
I've got an idea...

What if we used voice recognition, so you could just talk into the cell phone and it would translate this into a text message.. then when the other person(maybe driving at the time) recieves the txt, their cell could use text-to-speach and read the text message to them so they didn't have to look away from the road.
Then... OH WAIT... Just f*ckin pull over and call each other and forget the texting BS. It's retarded.

<rant>This whole discussion is retarded. I don't care that YOU THINK you're okay to drive while texting or talking or drinking or whatever. People are already stupid enough, without adding more distractions into the mix.

I'm ready to say that a decent percentage of sober, non-texting, non-talking drivers are unfit to share the road with people I care about, so when I see people doing this crap while driving next to me, it feels like they are making a statement that they don't care at all about anyone they may hurt with their incompetence.

Looking away from the road
By nafhan on 7/28/2009 9:49:01 AM , Rating: 2
The obvious thing to take away from this is that looking away from the road is a bad idea. My understanding is that talking on the phone isn't any worse than talking to someone in the car, but dialing and messing with the address book can be just as bad as texting.

Anyway, has there been a study about texting while driving a motorcycle?
(Should be the right vid, but youtube is blocked here)

By invidious on 7/28/2009 9:53:38 AM , Rating: 2
Good drivers don't text while driving, bad drivers do text while driving amung doing any number of other stupid things. Bad drivers get into accidents more often than good drivers. Unless they were texting immediately prior to the accient then texting has nothing to do with the incident. All this study confirms is texting is 23 fold more common amung bad drivers than good drivers.

Far more data would be needed to determine the rate at which texting actually "causes" accidents. A 100 sample size is no where near large enough to determine a trend on the scale of 23 fold.

I am not saying texting while driving is good by any stretch. But the wild conclusions of limitted studies like this should not be rushed out and turned into law. If someone flipped a coin 3 times and tried to tell you heads is 50% more common than tails would you accept it?

By postalbob on 7/28/2009 2:36:26 PM , Rating: 2
I don't have a lot to say...But I do have one thing in regards to the poster at the top...

"Accident" does not imply no one is at fault except for in ridiculous legal terms which exist per a need of very intensive wording, from people who respect law over literature. In actuality an accident in common terms is an undesired or unintentional effect from one's actions, which contradicts the legal term. Your actions have to have caused an accident for you to have done something "by accident" which is the main purpose of the word. Accident in present times for the english language exists mainly for declarations on one's own actions, not pointing out the "accidents" of others. This article is simply producing a statistic for cell phone usage "accidents" on the road. If the cell phone is what they are talking about being the proximate cause, then in actuality "accidents" caused by cell phones would be correctly worded because an inanimate object cannot cause the legal definition of a "collision". In either case, don't make the mistake of trying to analyze things to the letter with media. Take the theme or concept for what it is. It's silly to hold onto every word. My reply to you must sound silly as well...But I just hate it when someone tries to pick apart an article on small minute issues.

I don't get it
By ggordonliddy on 7/28/2009 6:11:23 PM , Rating: 2
Why would I be more likely to get into a wreck when I am not looking at the road? Some kind of crazy logic here.

Hear me now and believe me later.

Obvious much?
By edge929 on 7/28/2009 6:22:58 PM , Rating: 2
This just in: the sky is blue.

By Fenixgoon on 7/28/2009 6:38:24 PM , Rating: 2
If only it were true...

By Beenthere on 7/28/2009 11:16:57 AM , Rating: 1
Anyone talking or texting while driving should lose their license for six months and be fined $5,000 for the first offense. If you have an accident, you should also do a minimum of six months in jail. Sama applies if you are shaving, applying make-up, playing with an Ipod, etc. Driving a motorized vehicle safely requires 100% focus and is a responsibility not a option.

I am a truck driver....
By TheEinstein on 7/28/2009 8:38:34 PM , Rating: 1
I am driving right now in fact.

Some observed statistics from a driver and statistics wannabe scientist:

1 in 25 have laptops up front
1 in 4 have cell phones up during daytime hours, or are using a headset
1 in 8 has a headset
1 in 10-15 has a partner in the truck, or family member

Now none of these are scientifically sound, I did not record actual numbers, but an educated guess is correct.

Now trucks have accidents, do not get this wrong! In fact my company has a safety spree happening, where it seems we have, for a fleet, about 1% of our fleet in accidents per 2 days, aka over a year we will have a 178% of our fleet in accidents.

Accidents are classified into a huge spectrum of types for trucks by the way. Jack-knifes, rear-ends, dropping trailers, roll-overs, strike object left side rear, strike object right front side, bent this, bent that, road debris, unpreventable accident, and much much more.

Most accidents happen at less than 25 miles per hour by what I see. Of course the value of the accidents probably skews to the faster mph type accidents, as usually this is a total cargo loss, and can be very damaging to truck, trailer, and whatever was struck.

Ok so the last two paragraphs were typed while parked, it started raining, so I stopped reading/typing.

Using a laptop, phone, texting... these are issues where ability versus inability rules out. You cannot see the difference in my driving when I am typing, or reading, or just driving with no 'distractions'.

A choice note:

If you look in every police car (in the United States at least) you will find a computer on the dash. This computer can be a simple over-sized text machine to a complex series of monitors and programs. These computers are used by these officers even when driving in a hurry to an incident.

I do not see this changing for the officers any time soon, nor should it ever. As well this is an issue of personal responsibility. My truck can easily... EASILY kill a lot of people if I let it get out of control, I could crush a school bus for instance. Yet I take great pains to make sure my responsibilities to be safe and aware come first, and my "extra's" when I have extra room from my responsibilities.

I am a statistics theorist, I love statistics. I also know the dark side of our art. It can be used for great evil by being selective, deceptive, and skewed due to missing information.

In this case we have a group attacking texting and truck drivers at the same time.

By LRonaldHubbs on 7/28/2009 8:40:49 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, those things are dangerous, but they are not intentional. Nobody intentionally pours coffee into their lap while driving (well, maybe some do...) or tells the kids to bicker and throw things around in the back seat. And generally when those things do happen, you pull over to resolve them. Texting while driving is a purposeful dereliction of responsibility.

I agree, people need to be responsible, but sadly many are not.

By Murloc on 7/28/2009 8:41:28 AM , Rating: 2
you shouldn't drink coffee in the car too, and educate your children to shut up in the car.

By pequin06 on 7/28/2009 8:53:51 AM , Rating: 2
What about eating Jack in the Box tacos in rush hour traffic?

By smackababy on 7/28/2009 8:54:09 AM , Rating: 2
That's what I was thinking!

By BarkHumbug on 7/28/2009 9:02:45 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure what you're trying to say here? Spilling coffee on yourself is certainly an involuntary event which leads to great discomfort whilst texting to your buddies is a conscious choice, made by you while you were supposed to be focusing on your driving, no?

Texting when you should be looking on the road is up there with other brainless activities like reading the newspaper or putting on makeup while driving...

By Aloonatic on 7/28/2009 9:37:04 AM , Rating: 2
Drinking/eating whilst driving is illegal in the UK, not sure about the states. Driving along not looking at the road as your kids fight would get you pulled over by the cops too, once you'd noticed them.

There are stories in the news, whenever there's a lul in the fighting abroad, about people being given tickets and what not by cops because they are drinking bottled water or eating a kit kat when in their cars, even when stationary at traffic lights.

I assume that there is a similarly vague "driving without due care" type law in the states? It's what people used to be prosecuted under before specific mobile phone use whilst driving laws where imposed I think.

By Moishe on 7/28/2009 9:59:31 AM , Rating: 4
I am a typical US driver, meaning I eat, drink, txt, play with boobs, etc while in the car. We have no laws for the vague stuff like drinking and I think we should. Right now if anyone were ticketed for drinking a drink while driving, there would be a public uproar. We need to start moving toward a more strict set of acceptable behavior while driving though.

Germany has a better record because Germans concept of driving is different. Americans live in the car and Germans use the car to get somewhere.

Frankly, I think one of the core reasons why Americans do so much in the car is that we are not culturally laid back. Everything is hurried and so we don't want to "waste" the time to stop and eat when we can drive and eat. This leads to more fast food, obesity, and more accidents because we eat more while driving.

I'm not sure where the line should be drawn though. Maybe drinks only and only drinks with tops, like bottles or coffee/sippy cups. I think the driver should not be allowed to eat while driving.

By LRonaldHubbs on 7/28/2009 11:36:28 AM , Rating: 2
There are stories in the news, whenever there's a lul in the fighting abroad, about people being given tickets and what not by cops because they are drinking bottled water or eating a kit kat when in their cars, even when stationary at traffic lights.

Wow, I was not aware of that, but that is outrageous. Yet another reason why I could never live in the UK (the other main reason being their gun control laws).

I assume that there is a similarly vague "driving without due care" type law in the states?

Nope. Other than the exception with cellphones in some states and towns, the only things falling under 'lack of due car' would be the effects poor driving, not the causes . In other words, a cop can cite you for swerving, rolling a stop sign, riding on the shoulder, etc, but he cannot cite you for eating a sandwich or adjusting the stereo. Your actions inside the vehicle have to actually translate into a visible hazard or violation outside the vehicle, which is a far more sensible approach IMO.

By markitect on 7/28/2009 9:49:53 AM , Rating: 2
I think reading the newspaper and putting on makeup are better examples.

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