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Times journalist tries text messaging in the simulator  (Source: Times)
Drivers who text while driving are more dangerous than those under the influence of alcohol or marijuana

A British study done by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) for the British Royal Automobile Club Foundation indicates it's more dangerous to send text messages while driving even when compared to drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The study showed that drivers who text and drive become more than one third slower than if they were coherent and not texting – this was compared to a person at the DUI limit or under the influence of marijuana.  Text messaging lowered reaction time by 35 percent, while people high on marijuana slowed down 21 percent and those who were drunk slowed down by 12 percent.

On top of those findings, people reading or writing text messages drifted out of their lane more than people who were focused solely on driving.  Texters also had a more difficult maintaining a safe distance from cars around them.

Around half of British drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 text while driving, the RAC Foundation said.  

"When texting, drivers are distracted by taking their hand off the wheel to use their phone, by trying to read small text on the phone display and by thinking about how to write their message," said Dr. Nick Reed, TRL senior human factors researcher.  "This combination of factors resulted in the impairments to reaction time and vehicle control that place the driver at a greater risk than having consumed alcohol to the legal limit for driving."

The British Department for Transport, in response to the increased danger of texting while driving, has increased the ticket for using a cell phone while driving.  In addition to increasing the fine, the agency also has launched an ad campaign to inform drivers how dangerous it is to text and drive.

Most states in the United States do not have laws banning text messaging while driving, but drivers can often times be pulled over if they are seen driving recklessly while using their mobile phone.  The state of California has banned talking on a cell phone without the use of a hands-free device, and a ban on text messaging while driving will likely go into effect in 2009.

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depends on the phone...
By Myrandex on 9/19/2008 9:11:22 AM , Rating: 1
some phones have small screens with only t9 input...

some (i)phones only have touchscreens so you can't even feel a button when you press it, and therefore have to stare at the screen...

Some phones, such as my own, have qwerty which means I can leave both hands on the wheel and look at the road only, and still send messages without a problem. If I'm cruising down the highway, and I need to send a quick message to someone, I have done it plenty of times with no ill effects mentioned in the study (speed doesn't decrease, didn't change lanes, didn't have to react due to lack of things to react to around me, etc.). There is a big common sense factor here. sitting at a red lite or traveling straight while the car is on cruise control with no one else around you is one thing, but while traveling through fog or rain in heavy traffic is another completely.


RE: depends on the phone...
By Spivonious on 9/19/2008 9:22:10 AM , Rating: 3
You forgot to mention the child you ran over because they ran out into the street at the exact moment you looked down to text.

If you have to send a message, pull over, because it must be an emergency.

RE: depends on the phone...
By joeld on 9/19/2008 10:58:15 AM , Rating: 2
I'm impressed at anyone who is able to keep both hands on the wheel, look at the road, and text at the same time. I don't see how the phone model could help ya!

I've got a slide out 8525 and it's hard to use one-handed. You can text easier with a t9 input IMO.

Oh, and I have texted twice while driving. If you need to talk to someone, give them a call and use a headset. 10x safer, hopefully.

RE: depends on the phone...
By rudolphna on 9/19/2008 11:27:36 AM , Rating: 1
this is just a little fact, to post. Did you know that listening to music with words, no matter the language, cuts your reaction time in half? Its true.

RE: depends on the phone...
By menace on 9/20/2008 3:03:50 AM , Rating: 2
Cuts your reaction time in half? Perhaps you meant double the reacting time? Can you point me to a scientific study?

I found one study

On average there was a .12 second difference in reaction times with music at zero decibels and ninety-five decibels.

The "study" only had 10 participants, all girls <snicker>. Looks like it was a high school science project. Lame.

I don't think music has any effect on your reactions unless you also have a car full of distractions (your "posse"). However it does make it difficult to hear sirens until they are right on you, which is bad.

RE: depends on the phone...
By lightfoot on 9/20/2008 1:49:20 AM , Rating: 2
It's not just looking away from the road or taking your hands from the wheel that is dangerous. The dangerous part is the fact that you are distracted. Texting is a fairly complex task that requires significant brainpower. Brainpower that should be used on the life-threatening task at hand which is navigating a 3000+ pound deadly weapon down a narrow strip of asphalt at 75+ feet per second without injuring or killing anyone. It's not a trivial task and it shouldn't be treated as one.

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