A recent study out of Australia confirmed what many people have long suspected: that texting while driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. The study, conducted by researchers out of Australia in conjunction with scientists from the University of Barcelona, concluded that texting while driving is comparable in terms of road risks to driving while legally drunk.
The study, published in the Traffic Injury Prevention Journal, also found that even those talking on a hands-free device had a similar risk as those who had a drink or two. Researchers began their work by gathering a group of 12 volunteers to participate in a driving simulation test over the course of two days, each a week apart.
The first day, volunteers were asked to engage in a series of driving tasks in various phone-use situations. Drivers were assessed based on their braking speed, reaction time, variations in speed and ability to remain in their lane. Drivers on the first day were given no alcohol and were asked to drive a simulation under four conditions: without using a phone, while engaged in relatively simple conversation on a hands-free device, while engaged in an involved conversation on a hands-free device and while texting.
A week later, the same group was asked to return and do the same things, this time after having been given alcohol. The volunteers were given enough to reach three specific levels of intoxication: BAC of 0.04, 0.07 and 0.10.
The results were pretty surprising. For one thing, the study found that the driving skills of those drivers who were texting behind the wheel declined as sharply as those whose BAC was 25 percent above the legal limit (meaning those who had a 0.10 blood alcohol level). The study also discovered that those using hands-free phones who engaged in relatively simple conversations had similar declines in driving levels as those drivers with a BAC of 0.04. Drivers who were engaged in intense or overly involved conversations that required that they recount specific facts or events, suffered driving skill declines similar to those with a BAC of 0.07, just a hair under Minnesota’s legal limit of 0.08.
The authors of the study said they were surprised to discover that there was a difference in driving abilities for those engaged in deep conversations versus those merely chatting. It was especially surprising given that both groups of drivers were on hands-free devices, something that is supposed to dramatically increase safety.
The study underlines what many already know: texting and driving is incredibly dangerous. In fact, the study showed that those who text and drive exhibit declines in driving skills 25 percent greater than those who are legally drunk in Minnesota. What remains confusing then is why legislators are so eager to spend time and money cracking down on drunk drivers, devoting considerable police resources to the matter while devoting comparably little to the equally dangerous issue of texting behind the wheel.
Source: “Texting and driving impairs you as much as drinking, says study,” by Jordana Divon, published at Yahoo.com.