Texting or e-mailing while driving a car is a much more dangerous practice than found in previous studies. According to a new study by The Texas Transportation Institute, these practices double a person’s reaction time.
The researchers monitored 42 drivers who were put through an 11-mile test course, both while using texting devices and while concentrating exclusively on the road. The drivers were asked to react to a flashing yellow light. The researchers were stunned to find that a driver’s reaction time increased by 100% when he or she was sending or receiving text messages while driving.
A person who was not texting took about 1 to 2 seconds to react to the flashing yellow light, while a person who was texting while driving took between 3 and 4 seconds to react. A motorist who was texting while driving was up to 11 times more likely to miss the light altogether.
For drivers traveling at about 55 mph, a delayed reaction time of up to 4 seconds can be sufficient to cause a serious accident. In fact, according to estimates, 4 seconds is enough time for a car traveling at 55 mph to traverse the length of a football field – definitely enough time to cause an accident ending with devastating injuries.
Hawaii has strong laws banning texting and the use of handheld cell phones while driving. As of July 1, 2011, the city of Honolulu has increased fines for the use of handheld cell phones while driving in order to reduce such practices. Hopefully, these increased fines will lead to a reduction of the number of drivers who indulge in such dangerous distracted driving practices.