Today, the latest info on cell phone-related distracting driving isn’t so much disappointing and outrageous as it is terrifying: according to researchers at Texas A&M University’s Transportation Institute, texting while driving is even more dangerous than previously thought.
Specifically – texting while driving is so distracting that it can double drivers’ reaction times.
For the study, researchers recorded how long it took 42 drivers on an 11-mile test track to stop once they saw a flashing yellow light. For drivers who were not distracted by texting, the average stopping time was 1-2 seconds. For drivers who were texting while driving, “the reaction time extended to three to four seconds,” reports Jim Forsyth for Reuters.
A difference of one or two seconds might not seem like a big deal, but once you factor in highway speeds, that extra time can equal big trouble. Kurt Urnst crunched the numbers at The Car Connection: “Still not convinced? Ponder this: a two second delay in reaction time, at fifty miles per hour, translates into an increase of roughly 148 feet in stopping distance. ”
148 extra feet before the test drivers distracted by texting were able to bring their vehicles to a stop. That’s roughly equivalent to needing an entire American football field to come to a stop, instead of just your team’s half.
Here are three other important facts to come out of the study:
- It doesn’t matter whether you read a message you’ve received or write one of your own: “The act of reading and writing a text message are equally impairing and equally dangerous,” said lead researcher Christine Yager.
- Texting drivers are more likely to swerve in their lanes.
- The study findings include other related distractions, such as checking email or browsing Facebook.