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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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Ilogical premise.
By gochichi on 9/21/2008 11:32:37 PM , Rating: 2
Another "cellphone use" more dangerous than alcohol or mariguana. Here's the thing: a careful and well intended drunk will actually drive reasonably well. Like the kind that had a couple drinks too many (not 5 drinks too many) and just wants to get home safe... suddenly they're obeying the speed limit and trying their hardest to stay within the line. Suddenly the radio is off, and all attention is placed on driving, even though they had a couple of drinks too many they they are actually relatively safe. OK, so I drive less safely than that hypothetical most of the time.

Here's the problem with that ludicrous statement. Drunkeness is not usually INSTEAD of cellphone use (or whatever distraction you prefer), it's in addition to cellphone use. Not to mention the brilliant ideas you get while you're tipsy. For instance, I've been designated driver and driving my drunk girlfriend who decides she'd like to go down on me (pretty distracting at times). Well, if I were drunk, I sure as heck would be even less likely to say no to that... so there you have it, is the drunk safer still? You got high (i never get high, but just saying) and you get the munchies... next thing you know you're combined a slow reaction time with trying to eat some Taco Bell and not spill.

Anyhow, that's my two cents. Drunkenness is another layer of irresponsibility. Driving is boring, and requires very little attention. Fiddling with the iPod, eating/ drinking, or being on the phone, or texting, or shaving, or doing your make up, fixing your hair or whatver, disciplining your kids, making out, and the list goes on and on is not a good idea but I'm pretty sure every single person that drives often has done a couple of these things in the last month.

Texting is ridiculous while driving (i've done it, i admit it, I've also driven at over 110MPH in a 1995 altima with regular tires... horrible plan) we all do stupid stuff at times. Adding drunkeness to any of these bad ideas would likely cost a life. My message is this: if you're gonna do something stupid while driving, keep it down to one thing... rather than add them up combo style.

I can tell you I'm always on edge while texting and driving, I'm always ready to drop the phone if needed, all systems on high alert. I'm so good at texting that it's pretty automatic as well. It also starts off with making a sober decision about the driving situation I'm in. I usually slow down to the speed limit, check all mirrors more intently, etc.

These comparisons are very strange indeed. There is absolutely no way to compare these, drunks make poorer decisions than sobers. So if a sober is like me, and is selfish enough to text while driving... think of what I would do drunk? Then add crappy reaction time to mix. Maybe instead of texting at 55MPH, I'd text at 75MPH... texting may be bad but drunkenness is still worse.




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