Texting While Driving Greatly Increases Crash Risks

A new study shows that drivers who use text messaging while driving are even more dangerous than previous studies had shown. The research by Virginia Tech's Transportation Institute shows texting truck drivers are 23 times more likely to crash or have a near-crash than drivers who aren't texting.

Researchers analyzed data collected from 2004 to 2007, involving 203 truckers and three million miles on the road. Trucks were fitted with video cameras that allowed analysis of drivers in the six seconds leading up to and during crashes and near misses. The analysis of the video showed texting to be dangerous behavior because drivers typically take their eyes off of the road in order to type the text messages into their cell phones.

The Virginia Tech researchers studied 4,452 "safety-critical events," including 21 crashes, 197 near-crashes and over 42,000 other driving events, including unintentional lane changes.

Researchers said the observed drivers spent nearly five seconds of the six seconds immediately preceding a crash looking at their electronic devices. At typical highway speeds, that's enough time to more than cover the length of a football field.

Though trucks are less nimble and take longer to stop than cars, researchers said their findings generally apply to all drivers who send or receive text messages while driving. There is no evidence suggesting that truckers text more or are less attentive than other drivers, they said.

The study also showed that dialing a cell phone increases the chances of a crash or near-crash by 300 percent and that drivers who talk on cell phones are 1.3 times more likely to have a crash or near-crash event.

Fourteen states - not including Ohio - currently ban texting while driving, or are in the process of implementing bans on texting by drivers. Kentucky bans all cell phone use by school bus drivers, but also prohibits local governments from passing ordinances limiting cell phone use, reserving that right entirely for the state government.

If you have been injured in an auto accident caused by a distracted driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately to discuss your options.