The cabs of more than 100 long haul trucks were outfitted with video cameras. Eye glance analysis of the drivers, as they traveled three million miles, found that when they texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting. In the moments before a crash or near crash, they typically spend nearly five seconds with their eyes off the road. The study examined 21 crashes, 197 near-crashes, and about 4,200 other "safety-critical events" such as unintentional lane changes.
Preliminary results from a more recent VTTI study of teenagers texting in passenger vehicles show a similar risk level. VTTI director Tom Dingus says of test messaging while driving, "You should never do this. It should be illegal."
By comparison, studies using epidemiological methods have shown that drivers talking on cellphones are four times more likely to cause a crash than other drivers.
The number of text messages sent each month nationwide is sky-rocketing. It reached 135 billion in June, an 18-fold increase in just four years. The average American teen send about 2,300 text messages per month in late 2008. Almost 80 a day, and more than double the rate a year earlier. Teens, the most inexperience drivers, are also the group most likely to be texting while driving. For teen drivers cell phone conversations and text messaging are especially high-risk activities.
Material from the Wisconsin DOT
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