Hazards of Texting While Driving

While driving recently, I caught myself trying to answer an e-mail on my cell phone that I thought, at the time, was urgent. As I was attempting to type a response, shifting my attention from the road, to my Blackberry, and back to the road again, the incredible stupidity of what I was doing struck me.

The National Highway Safety Administration recently reported that almost 80% of all auto crashes are caused by distracted drivers. Further, 37% of teens in a recent study rated texting while driving as "extremely" distracting or "very" distracting, yet over 90% of all teens do so.

According to a recent study conducted by researchers at Eastern Virginia Medical School and Children's Hospital of the Kings' Daughters in Norfolk, driving while text messaging or fiddling with an MP3 player is an even greater hazard than talking on a cell phone while driving.

In the study, the researchers had 21 teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18, take part in a series of simulated driving experiments. Donald Lewis, MD, chief of Eastern Virginia Medical School's department of pediatrics and co-researcher, said that each teen was asked to get behind the wheel of a simulated vehicle and drive through simulated scenery, in rural, then urban, settings, in 10-minute intervals.

In the tests involving distractions that required finger movement, the participants steered the virtual vehicles erratically, weaving in and out of lanes and running over virtual people. Lewis said that the worst driving came when the participants were text messaging, likely due to being required to look down in addition to moving their fingers.

Set a good example for your kids and keep your phone off while driving. No one wants another car accident tragedy caused by texting while driving.