Car Accidents Caused by Text Messaging
Text messaging by drivers is legal even though research has found that it increases the chance of accidents. When people engage in multitasking, they lose the ability to monitor themselves while they are driving, according to a researcher at the University of Utah at Salt Lake City who has studied cell phone and motorist safety for seven years.
In a recent study of 19- to 24-year-olds in driving simulators, motorists who text message while driving are six times more likely to be distracted and have an accident. When a driver texts, driving patterns change. For example, the response time to brake is 23 percent slower — 1.077 seconds when texting and driving compared with 0.881 seconds when unencumbered.
The National Safety Council finds that text messaging is among the worst things a driver can do. Of course, any time you take your hands, eyes or brain off the wheel it's not good idea. However, with text messaging, you take all three off the wheel. In fact, the study found that drivers who are talking on a cell phone or texting while driving don't process the visual environment. They may not recognize whether they are seeing a red traffic light or the onset of a brake light.
Investigators of a recent accident in which five teenagers were killed said the phone owned by the 17-year-old driver was used to make a call and send and receive text messages in the three minutes before the crash. It isn't known whether the driver, Bailey Goodman, or a passenger was text messaging.
Only Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C., have prohibited motorists from driving and talking on hand-held cell phones. California and Washington will ban cell phone use starting Jan 1. Also, AAA says 14 states restrict the use of cell phones by drivers younger than 18.