'Text-driving' is becoming more hazardous to drivers than drunk driving

Drunk-drivers, rejoice! You’ve been dethroned from your perch as ‘most dangerous drivers’ on the streets by text-drivers!

Ever since the mobile phone boom occurred in the past 13 years, there have been an increasing number of accidents on the road that involve drivers spending more time watching their hands punch the keypads of their phones than watching the road.

It’s become such an alarming road hazard that a number of states, including Alaska, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Washington, have already issued bans texting while driving.

And while studies on the comparisons between the dangers of drunk-driving and texting while driving have been around for a while, no one has ever done an actual test of it; that is until Car and Driver took to the test tracks to see if the allegations on texting while driving holds any merit.

In the latest issue of Car and Driver, the magazine’s EIC, Eddie Alterman took his intern, Jordan Brown, with him on a test track to determine the actual dangers of driving while using a handheld device.

Continued after the jump.

Source: NY Times

The first thing the two subjects did was test their reaction times at 35 mph and 70 mph. Upon determining their times, the two were given the same task, but this time, were asked to read a text message aloud, after which the two drivers would have to type in the same message they just read.

After clocking their respective times, the two drivers were then proceeded to get themselves as drunk as they possibly can. Shot after shot and swig after swig, both Alterman and Brown took turns getting buzzed and plastered. After taking a breathalyser test where both drivers reaching the legal limit of 0.08 percent blood-alcohol level, the pair were once again tasked to take the same light-and-brake test – this time without any handheld distractions.

The results, which came as a shock to everyone, came out with numbers under the texting-while-driving scenario faring much worse than the drunk-driving scenario.

Car and Driver EIC Eddie Alterman posted a reaction time of .64 seconds while he was intoxicated and an amazing 1.36 seconds while he was fiddling with his handheld – twice as long as his intoxicated driving time. Similarly, Brown posted a reaction time of .46 seconds while drunk and driving and .52 seconds while texting – still a slower reaction time but not on the level set by Alterman.

Another result – the distance covered by the driver before going to a full stop - that came out of the test showed that Alterman covered an average of four feet farther while he was intoxicated as opposed to driving while texting, which came out with an average of driving 70 feet farther before going to a stop.

Despite their discoveries, the test was still limited in terms of the number of variables that lacked in real-world driving. According to Mike Austin, the author of the article, “We were using a straight road without any traffic, road signals, or pedestrians, and we were only looking at reaction times.”

Nevertheless, the results of the magazine’s little study is a wake-up call to those who can’t seem to put their handheld phones down, even at the expense of not seeing the road in front of them.


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