Texting and Driving: Not Smart

Teenage drivers who text while driving are more likely to make mistakes

(RxWiki News) With many states passing laws against texting while driving, some claim that the laws will make driving more dangerous because drivers will conceal their phones. However, a new study tells a different story.

The study, initiated by high school students, found that drivers make more driving mistakes while texting.

They are more likely to drift from their lane, be unaware of accident hazards, and speed whether or not they were concealing their phone.

"Texting while driving increases your risk of being in an accident."

"Any texting while driving has an adverse impact on driving performance among teenage drivers under simulated conditions," says study advisor, Mark D. Fox, MD, PhD, MPH, FAAP, associate dean for Community Health and Research Development at the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine.

The study was conducted as part of Generation tXt, which was designed by the teens to raise awareness of the dangers of texting while driving.

The study authors asked 22 teens aged 15 to 19 to operate a driving simulator while texting with their phone concealed. They also asked them to use the simulator while texting with the phone in a position of their choice and without any texting at all.

Teens who were texting drifted from their lane 13 times on average during one simulation. If they concealed their phones they drifted 17 times on average. While not texting at all, they drifted only three times.

Texting drivers also had twice the number of close calls, or near crashes, with virtual cars and pedestrians.

Overall, texting drivers made an average of 18 mistakes and those hiding their phones made 22 mistakes. Those driving without texting made only 5 mistakes on average.

"These data demonstrate that there is no 'safe' or 'better' position that makes texting less dangerous," adds high schooler and lead author Glade Inhofe.

The study was presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting on April 29th, 2012.

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Review Date: 
April 29, 2012