NHTSA Driving Study Finds Greater Danger in Texting Than Talking

Posted on April 24, 2013

Yet another study highlights the risks posed when one submits to various distractions at the wheel.  What’s interesting about this particular research is that it downplays the threat posed by simply talking on a cellphone while driving, something that other studies have come to very different conclusions about.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute carried out the research at the behest of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  Researchers used phone records to track the habits of 204 people who readily admitted to talking on their cellphones while driving on a daily basis.

What they found was that more than one out of every ten minutes was spent talking on a mobile device at the wheel.  This accounts for 28% of total cellphone talking throughout the day.  Only 10% of text messages could be similarly attributed to driving.

23.3 seconds was the average time a person’s eyes were averted from the road while composing a single text.  This doubles the threat of a crash, while simply reaching for or dialing a phone tripled the risk, even if actual talking was shown to pose no greater hazard.  And because placing or answering a call requires some input from a driver, even if the device is handheld, the risk goes up at such times.

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