The death of a plastic surgeon to the stars, who veered of a cliff on the California coast after allegedly sending tweets and texts whilst behind the wheel once again highlights the dangers of texting whilst driving.
‘ The Effect Of Text Messaging On Driver Behaviour A Simulator Study’ by the UK Transport Research Laboratory for the RAC Foundation found that reaction times deteriorate by over one-third (35%) when drivers text whilst driving. Those tested drifted out of their lane more often and steering control was 91% worse than normal conditions. All participants in the study described themselves as confident texters. Despite this, messages, which at a desk took an average of 22 seconds to compose, took on average 63 seconds when the texter was driving. In one minute, a car travels half a mile at town centre speeds and over a mile at motorway speeds. During this minute, drivers are distracted in three ways:-
- mental workload: the work of composing the text takes the mind off the road
- control: using the phone’s keypad means that only one hand is on the wheel
- visual attention: eyes are on the phone not on the road ahead
The road environment can change significantly over this relatively short space of time, making texting whilst driving a toxic mixture. Drivers need to have an eye on the road at all times to make sure their journey is safe. The case of Dr Frank Ryan sadly acts as another statistics and provides a stark warning to those who continue to text whilst driving.