Collision Risk While Driving a Truck and Texting 23 Times Higher Than When Not Texting

In another article in the on-going New York Times series on the risks of using wireless devices while driving, a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) indicates that text messaging while driving a truck makes the risk of a crash or near crash event 23.2 times higher than that when not texting.

According to VTTI press release, the study found that the risk of a crash or near crash event were the following:

Light Vehicle/Cars

  • Dialing Cell Phone - 2.8 times as high as non-distracted driving
  • Talking/Listening to Cell Phone - 1.3 times as high as non-distracted driving
  • Reaching for object (i.e. electronic device and other) - 1.4 times as high as non-distracted driving

Heavy Vehicles/Trucks

  • Dialing Cell phone - 5.9 times as high as non-distracted driving
  • Talking/Listening to Cell Phone - 1.0 times as high as non-distracted driving
  • Use/Reach for electronic device - 6.7 times as high as non-distracted driving
  • Text messaging - 23.2 times as high as non-distracted driving

VTTI says that it combined several large–scale, naturalistic driving studies (using sophisticated cameras and instrumentation in participants' personal vehicles) that provided a good understanding of driver distraction and cell phone use under real–world driving conditions. Combined, these studies continuously observed drivers for more than 6 million miles of driving.

The NY Times story also points out that while people understand texting while driving is dangerous, many do so anyway. It cites a AAA survey of 2,501 drivers this spring, of which 95 percent said that texting was unacceptable behavior, yet 21 percent of drivers said they also had recently texted or e-mailed while driving.

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