It's Confirmed: Texting While Driving Can Be Lethal

A new study presented to the Pediatric Academic Societies on Saturday, May 2, confirms what most people already know: sending text messages and driving are a potentially lethal combination.

The study shows that distracted teens' behaviors while driving are clearly a danger for other traffic participants, as well as for the pedestrians.

According to ScienceDaily, 21 teens using a driving simulator while sending text messages or searching their MP3s slowed down, wove in an out of their lanes, and, in some cases, ran over pedestrians.

"It's good for us to increase community awareness that this can be a problem," said LaPrecious Harrold, M.D., a resident physician at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) and Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters (CHKD) in Norfolk, Va.

This study comes as a confirmation to our previous report, in which we brought to your attention that legislators nationwide debated how and whether to regulate texting-while-driving.

The study restricted itself to teens only, a category of drivers that is already at significant risk. The study tested 21 subjects between the age of 16 and 18 years with at least six months driving experience. Teens who reported use of alcohol or excessive amounts of caffeine were excluded, as well as those diagnosed with an attention disorder or having a history of unsafe driving.

Each driver completed four separate 10-minute driving blocks: undistracted, talking on a cell phone, text messaging and using an MP3 player. Each 10-minute block was separated into two different driving scenarios, rural and urban.

The results for the teens sending text messages or fiddling with their MP3 players showed increased "lane position deviation" and speed changes, mostly slowing down.

"What this study demonstrates is that not only does your speed go up and down, you're swinging wide left and right," said Donald Lewis, M.D., vice president of academic affairs at CHKD and chairman of the EVMS Department of Pediatrics. "You're a hazardous driver, to yourself and everybody else."
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