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:
- 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
- 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.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.