We are sure you have seen drivers texting – they are easy to spot as they are typically all over the road. Several studies suggest texting while driving may be more dangerous than drinking and driving or even driving under the influence of marijuana.
A study by the Transport Research Laboratory in the U.K. found that when subjects are text messaging and driving at the same time, reaction speed was reduced by 35 percent, thereby increasing the likelihood of an incident. Drivers drinking within the legal limit only suffered a 12 percent loss of reaction speed. Drivers that were driving under the influence of marijuana had their reaction speed reduced by 21 percent, 14 percent lower than while driving and texting. The study also found that texting and driving reduces a driver’s steering ability by 91 percent compared to 35 percent by a driver under the influence of marijuana.
A June 2009 study by Car and Driver found similar results. While the study did not test drivers under the influence of marijuana, it confirmed that reaction times for drivers is slower while texting than under the influence.
Of course, this inattention has led to an increase in accidents, some of which have been high-profile. While the problems with texting are serious, few states have passed laws outlawing the behavior. More troubling is that even were the laws to be passed, enforcement would present a hefty challenge. For example, in Texas it is illegal to read, write, or send an electronic message while driving; however, it is generally legal to use your phone for other reasons. Thus, conceivably playing angry birds while driving is not illegal (but is a horrible idea).
Considering the prevalence of this problem and the catastrophic harm that can follow, we suspect tighter laws will be coming concerning cell phone use.