A new study shows that texting, dialing, or even reaching for a cell phone while driving increases the chances of a car crash or a near-miss, even more so for young drivers. Though, the same study showed that merely talking on a cell phone did not prove to be dangerous, as previous studies have shown over the years.
The study did not differentiate from hand held or hands-free devices though, which could be a serious flaw. Researchers do note that while actually talking on the cell phone while driving may not be dangerous, reaching for one and dialing a phone number can be.
Studies show that teens specifically in the 15-20-year-old age group accounts for 6 % of all drivers but 10% of traffic deaths and 14% of police-reported crashes that included injuries.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute installed video cameras, GPS, lane trackers, and other tools that measure speed and acceleration, as well as sensors placed in the cars of 42 newly licensed drivers that were 16 or 17 years old and 109 adults with an average of 20 years driving experience.
The chance of a crash or near-miss increased by seven times if they were dialing or reaching for their cell phone and four times if they were sending or receiving a text message. There was also a rise in risk if they were reaching for something besides their phone, eating, or looking at objects on the roadside.
But among older drivers, only dialing a cell phone increased the chances of an accident or near-miss. But adults seemingly do not text as or as often as teens so this part of the study is lacking.
Distractions increased as time went on with new drivers but not as much with experienced drivers.
The tools used in the study cannot measure cognitive distractions, only wandering eyes and such and since one doesn't swerve as much while talking on the phone, nothing would be known about the distraction unless there was a crash. With texting, the driver takes their eyes off the road. That's where the real danger lies.
It seems fairly clear that texting while driving puts a driver at a greater risk of an accident than being under the influence of alcohol, yet the penalty for texting is far less severe than the penalties for DUI in Georgia. If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI or any other traffic-related offense, contact the Law Offices of Richard S Lawson.