Although sending text messages while driving has become commonplace, researchers shows it represents a much greater risk to drivers than other distractions, according to information released by Maaco Collision Repair & Auto Painting.
A study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) found that drivers who send text messages while behind the wheel are 23.2 times more likely to risk a crash or near crash event than non-distracted drivers.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety published polling data showing that 87 percent of people consider drivers texting or e-mailing to pose a “very serious” safety threat (roughly equal to the 90 percent who consider drunken drivers a threat).
Of the 2,501 drivers surveyed, 95 percent said that texting was unacceptable behavior. Yet 21 percent of drivers said they had recently texted or e-mailed while driving. About half of drivers 16 to 24 said they had texted while driving, compared with 22 percent of drivers 35 to 44.
“Texting is becoming more and more popular and it seems like most people 25 years old and younger text more than talk on a phone. The age of the texter compounds the danger since these younger people have less experience driving,” said David Lapps, president of Maaco.
“My advice is to never text while driving,” Lapps added. “I don’t want any customers to be injured by someone driving and texting. There’s nothing that important that you cannot pull over to the side of the road or into a parking lot to send a text if you need to.”
Besides texting, talking on a cell phone also poses dangers, research shows. Several studies show that these drivers are four times more likely to cause a crash. And a previous Virginia institute study found that these drivers were three times more likely to crash or come close to a crash when dialing a phone and 1.3 times more likely when talking on it.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver, while an additional half a million people were injured in such collisions. The organization found that on any given day in 2008, more than 800,000 vehicles were driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone.
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