Study: Texting drivers 6 times more likely to crash

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A new study by University of Utah researchers offers perhaps the most compelling evidence so far of the risks of texting while driving. The study says texting while driving makes you six times more likely to crash.

Researchers say 60 percent of teens text while driving. It's a concern, considering studies like this that show texting drivers are more hazardous on the road than those who drive drunk.

"Someone who is text messaging is obviously worse, by far, 50 percent worse, than someone who is legally drunk," says Frank Drews, associate professor at the University of Utah.

In the study, drunk drivers were four times more likely to crash than a sober driver; texting drivers were six times more likely to crash than someone who was not texting.

What makes this research a first is that the Utah experiments tracked young drivers and actual crashes, not close calls.

"We actually did not look at close calls, because that's not really a good observation point. What you really want to establish is how many people crashed," Drews explains.

In their experiments, researchers noted other observations: Texting drivers often move to the middle lane, and actually create a buffer zone between the next car in front them, as if to acknowledge the risk. Still, that was not enough to prevent a crash.

"There's a point at which you will get into an accident, because it's just a numbers game, it's a statistic. There's a risk, and it will hit you," Drews says.

But even this new evidence and tough new state bans on texting and driving aren't enough to change attitudes.

"I wouldn't suggest other people do it. In fact, I would probably get mad if other people were to do it, but I do it myself," says University of Utah student Ryon Sharette.

The University of Utah's study appears in the journal Human Factors. It is available by clicking HERE.


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