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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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logic leap
By invidious on 9/19/2008 9:30:13 AM , Rating: 1
Slower reaction time think being drunk does not necisarily mean more dangerous than. A large portion of drunk driving accidents, perhaps most, are caused by people either passing out while driving or making poor driving decisions. Neither of which are affected by reaction time.

I have texted while driving and I agree with the data from the study, it does impare my driving ability so I try to avoid it. But I dont agree the implication that it is anywhere near as dangerous as driving drunk.

I have never driven drunk but I have certainly been drunk to the point where cant walk straight let alone drive straight. I think I would have to be texting on two phones simultaniously, one in each hand, talking on a hands free and steering with my knee on the wheel to match that kind of imparement.

RE: logic leap
By ShaolinSoccer on 9/19/2008 5:04:02 PM , Rating: 2
Most people are not as agile as you.

RE: logic leap
By radializer on 9/19/2008 5:54:42 PM , Rating: 2
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

Missed this part, did you? The study stated that it tested people at the DUI limit ... your description of "being drunk to the point where you couldn't walk straight" probably puts you well above this limit.

A BAC of 0.08 is the limit in most states, which roughly corresponds to 2~3 drinks each with ~ 14ml of alcohol by volume. Significant motor control loss (which is essentially "not being able to walk straight") should, on average, occur only at BAC levels >0.12 - at which point, you would have exceeded the DUI limits in all states. Of course, individual reactions differ but I am assuming that 2~3 drinks would not (on average) make even a 150lb person lose the ability to walk straight.

RE: logic leap
By foolsgambit11 on 9/20/2008 11:01:17 AM , Rating: 2
Notice that the study picked a very specific point - the least drunk you can be and still be driving under the influence. I don't know what that is in Britain, but I'm guessing .08 or .10. Not staggering drunk.

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