Today’s New York Times released a study finding that texting while driving greatly increased the risk of collision. The study, performed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, put video cameras in the cabs of long-haul trucks and watched the drivers and the road. The study found that when the drivers texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting. (Maybe what should be surprising is that the drivers would be willing to text while driving even knowing that they were being videotaped.)
This is the first real study that has looked at actual drivers and not lab research. But the findings are consistent with those found in labs. The University of Utah, which has been a leader in this area, has tested teen drivers in simulators and, as mentioned by the Times, in college students, each finding that texting while driving is horribly dangerous.
But there might be a glimmer of hope in all of this. On the same day that the texting while driving study was released, a new study, reported in the Austin American Statesman, found that Texas leads the nation in cutting teen traffic deaths. A key component of the improvement appears to be a new education program teaching teens about the danger of texting while driving. Instead of just talking about the problem, the program has interactive exercises, such as one that calls for a student to push another seated in the chair. The driver is required to go around and through a series of cones while texting. The predictable results may form a strong lesson for the teens.
If you read my blog regularly, you know that texting while driving is a constant theme, and I’m happy to see any progress, even small, in decreasing the risk that we all face on the road. I also wanted to give kudos to the New York Times. In addition to the facts, they created their own interactive game to show the dangers of texting while driving. You should try it out.
- Car Wrecks – Text Messaging While Driving (resource page)
- Text Messaging and Twittering While Driving (updated resource page)
- More Studies Confirm Texting While Driving Is Worse Than Driving Drunk
- Text Messaging While Driving? Maybe Not In Austin
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