texting while driving dangerous
Sending text messages while driving can be dangerous, a perception that has now been borne out by the latest study.
Twenty-one teens using a driving simulator while sending text messages or searching their MP3s slowed down, wove in and out of their lanes, and, in some cases, ran over pedestrians.
While the most significant finding was that the distracted teens wove and changed their driving speed dramatically (other teens ran over pedestrians as well at a slightly lower rate), those behaviours can clearly pose a danger both to the drivers and others around them.
“It’s good for us to increase community awareness that this can be a problem,” said LaPrecious Harrold, resident physician at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) and Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) in Norfolk.
The study included 21 subjects aged between 16 and 18 years, with at least six months’ driving experience, a population of drivers already at significantly risk.
Road accidents are leading cause of death for people aged between 16 and 20, accounting for more than 5,000 deaths each year, according to the Centres for Disease Control. And teens are four times more likely than older drivers to be involved in a crash.
Anyone diagnosed with an attention disorder or with history of unsafe driving was excluded, as were teens who reported use of alcohol or excessive amounts of caffeine.
Each driver completed four separate 10-minute driving blocks: Undistracted, talking on a cell phone, text messaging and using an MP3 player. Each 10-minute block was separated into two separate driving scenarios, rural and urban, said an EVMS release.
The results for the teens sending text messages or fiddling with their MP3 players showed increased “lane position deviation” and speed changes, mostly slowing down.
These findings were presented at the Paediatric Academic Societies.