Results of a recent study released by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) show that distracted driving continues to be a very real threat. The findings, published in the Nov. 2 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, suggest that engaging in visual and manual subtasks, such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting, increases the risk of getting into a car accident by three times. Specifically, the results showed that younger or novice drivers are more vulnerable to in-car distractions than older or more experienced drivers, especially a year or so after they have received their license.
Increased Risks for Novice Drivers
For the new study, researchers at VTTI installed video cameras, global positioning systems, lane trackers, speed-measuring gadgets and other sensors in the cars of 42 newly licensed drivers 16 or 17 years old and 109 adults with an average experience of 20 years behind the wheel.
The risk of a crash or near-miss among young drivers increased more than sevenfold if they were dialing or reaching for a cell phone and four-fold if they were sending or receiving a text message. The risk also increased if they were reaching for something other than a phone, looking at a roadside object or eating. Among older drivers, only dialing a cell phone increased the chances of a crash or near miss. Engaging in distractions increased with longer driving times among novice drivers but not among experienced drivers.
Other Study Findings
Here are some of the other significant findings of VTTI studies:
• Text messaging, browsing and dialing resulted in the longest duration of drivers taking their eyes off the road.
• Text messaging increased the risk of a crash or near crash by two times and resulted in drivers taking their eyes off the road for an average of 23 seconds.
• Reaching for a phone, looking up a contact and dialing the number increased crash risk by three times.
• Hands-free cell phone use poses a crash risk as well.
If You are Injured in a Car Accident
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Source: Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI)
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