New York Drivers Beware: Texting While Driving Doubles Reaction Times

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2009 approximately 5,500 people were killed and 450,000 people were injured in car accidents that involved distracted driving. This means each day 15 deaths and over 1,000 injuries might be prevented if people focused more on being attentive drivers.

Distracted driving has become a chief concern for highway authorities, especially as people have become more dependent on advanced mobile devices. For example, Distraction.gov, the government's official website for distracted driving, lists the most common distractions as:

  • Texting, dialing or checking e-mail (via smart phone)
  • Eating or drinking
  • Watching videos or adjusting the music/radio dial
  • Reading, looking at maps or using a navigation system
  • Talking to other passengers

Study Shows Cell Phone Usage Slows Reaction Time

The Texas Transportation Institute recently released a study that found that reading or writing a text message while driving can more than double a driver's reaction time. Drivers who were texting or reading their phone took up to four second to react to stimuli, while those focused on the road typically reacted within two seconds. This lost time can easily be the difference between avoiding a serious car accident or winding up in a hospital.

The study tested 42 drivers between the ages of 16 and 54 using cars equipped with a special monitoring system. The subjects were directed to either look at their phone or type a text message until a flashing light signaled them to hit the brakes. Researchers found that vehicles traveling at 60 miles per hour, which covers 440 feet in five seconds, could not avoid an accident in most rush hour traffic conditions. Additionally, several drivers missed the flashing signal entirely, meaning they would have suffered a full speed collision in non-testing conditions.

Texting while driving removes at least one hand from the steering wheel, diverts a driver's eyes from the road, and causes people to focus their thought on something other than the task at hand: getting from point A to point B safely. As a result, text messaging has been the most dangerous and most accident-inducing distraction during the last several years.

Anyone injured in a car accident should speak with an experienced New York personal injury attorney immediately to discuss their rights and legal options.