Drivers who send text messages while on the road raise their risk of an accident by a factor of twenty, say researchers.According to a report from the Virginia Tech University Transportation Institute (VTTI) the act of sending a text message while driving is a far greater danger than any other act associated with the use of mobile phones.The study found that, on average, sending a text message causes the driver to travel roughly the distance of a football pitch without looking at the road.Researchers found that drivers sending text messages were 23.2 times more likely to suffer a crash or near miss on the road. By comparison, the act of dialling a number increased accident risk by 5.9 times and talking or listening doubled the chances of a crash.The study found that tasks which required the driver to remove his or her eyes from the road for the longest period of time were the most dangerous. As such, researchers say that the dangers of simply talking on the phone while driving were overstated."These results show conclusively that a real key to significantly improving safety is keeping your eyes on the road," wrote the researchers."In contrast, 'cognitively intense' tasks (e.g., emotional conversations, 'books on tape', etc.) can have a measurable effect in the laboratory, but the actual driving risks are much lower in comparison."
Issue: 315 | May 2013
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