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Parents May Be More Likely Than Teens to Cause Texting and Driving Crashes

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There’s no denying that texting behind the wheel is dangerous, but many drivers will disagree on just how dangerous the behavior is. However, a recent distracted driving study from Wayne State University confirms that risk is high—and the worst offenders may not be the targets of distracted driving campaigns.

Researchers tested 50 people between the ages of 18 and 60 years old, placing the drivers behind the wheel of a driving simulator. Study coordinators sent the drivers text messages asking them a variety of questions (such as “what is your favorite color?”) whose answers would vary in length.

The results show that while some texters are better at avoiding crashes, no group was immune from distraction:

  • Older drivers were more likely to veer into other lanes while texting. Nearly 100% of drivers between 45 and 60 (as well as 80% of 35- to 44-year-old drivers) drifted out of their lanes while responding to a text.
  • Roughly half of all drivers between 25 and 34 crossed lanes while texting, while only a quarter of teenagers and drivers under 24 years old veered off course.
  • Although many drivers identified themselves as “highly-skilled” texters (owned smartphones, reported daily texting, or had an ability to text one-handed), nearly all veered out of their traffic lanes when reading or sending texts.
  • Among “highly-skilled” texters, older drivers were more likely to cause crashes—a risk that increased with the complexity of the questions and duration of the response.

The results of the study, which were published in the January issue of the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, seem to indicate that driving experience provided little protection from texting distraction—and if anything, older drivers were more likely to cause crashes while texting than their children or grandchildren.

How Can I Prevent Cellphone Distraction?

Remember: even if you are adept at drinking coffee or changing radio stations while driving, you are not a “pro” when it comes to texting behind the wheel. The best defense against testing while driving is to stow your phone until you have reached your destination—or even hand your phone to a passenger to keep everyone in your vehicle safe.

Want to share safe driving tips with other New Jerseyans? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on texting behind the wheel.

Category: Car Accidents

Manfred Ricciardelli
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