Monday, 4 January 2010

Texting while driving

Okay, so I'm catching up on stuff after the Christmas break, but this is one paper that's made quite a splash - I'm certainly not the first to be blogging about it.  The latest issue of the journal Human Factors features a paper by Frank Drews and colleagues which, I gather, is the first peer-reviewed study on the effects of texting on driver performance.

As you might expect, texting and driving is bad.  Worse, in fact, than talking on the phone - and we already know that's bad enough, having been equated to serious drink-driving.  Texting slows brake reactions, impairs longitudinal and lateral control, and increases crash risk.

The study has already attracted some critcism for only involving young drivers - but I'd say that if young people can't text and drive, then the effects would be worse for older drivers.  The research will, I'm sure, be done in time, and this paper will no doubt become very heavily cited.

One other implication in the media coverage which concerns me is the potential for this to drown the effects of talking on the phone while driving - some of the articles I've seen are spun to suggest that because texting is so bad, phoning isn't so bad after all.  We (as a community) need to make sure that we don't forget how bad phoning and driving is - whether handheld or hands-free.

Surprisingly, you can download this paper for free here - though how long this will be available I don't know.


  1. This subject is actually being tested heavily on the drivers permit test. Thank god. Its just common sense.

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