In the wake of revelations that the Metrolink train engineer involved in the deadly collision near Los Angeles was texting while driving his train, a new British study has concluded that texting while driving is more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol or marijuana.
The study, performed by the Transport Research Laboratory, found that reaction time was worse for those texting than those under the influence of alcohol or marijuana, that steering control was far worsened by texting than by driving under the influence, and that texters were much more likely to be traveling too closely behind other cars.
One of the main researchers on the study noted:
When texting, drivers are distracted by taking their hand off the wheel to use their phone, by trying to read small text on the phone display, and by thinking about how to write their message. This combination of factors resulted in the impairments to reaction time and vehicle control that place the driver at a greater risk than having consumed alcohol to the legal limit for driving.
Despite these findings, few states have regulations on texting while driving. Only Alaska, Washington, Louisiana, Minnesota, and New Jersey have full bans on texting while driving. Twelve other states have partial bans (such as limits for those under the age of 18).
If you are interested in this topic, I have a previous blog post with numerous links to articles about text messaging while driving.