Monday, September 22 2008 @ 08:14 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
LONDON (AFP) - Texting behind the wheel is more dangerous than driving while under the influence of alcohol or cannabis, researchers said Thursday.
Research carried out on 17 young drivers (aged 17-24) using a simulator found that reaction time slowed by 35% when they were writing or reading text messages while driving. In comparison, reaction time deteriorated by 21% for those under the influence of cannabis, and by 12% at the legal alcohol limit.
Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) -- which carried out the study for the RAC Foundation -- also found that steering control worsened by 91% for those who were distracted by texts, compared to 35% when cannabis was involved.
The tests also showed that texters were less able to maintain safe distances from other cars and they tended to drift out of their lane more often.
RAC Foundation director Stephen Glaister said the research "clearly shows that a motorist who is texting is significantly more impaired than a motorist at the legal limit for alcohol."
TRL researcher Nick Reed added: "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. 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."
Nearly half of all drivers aged 18 to 24 in Britain admit to texting while driving, according to an earlier RAC poll of over 2000 young drivers.