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476660-00024-1 Report Abstract

An Investigation of the Effects of Reading and Writing Text-Based Messages While Driving

Joel Cooper, Christine Yager and Susan T. Chrysler, Texas A&M University, August 2011, 69 pp. (476660-00024-1)

Previous research, using driving simulation, crash data, and naturalistic methods, has begun to shed light on the dangers of texting while driving. Perhaps because of the dangers, no published work has experimentally investigated the dangers of texting while driving using an actual vehicle. Additionally, previous research does not clearly differentiate the dangers associated with reading and writing text messages. To address these issues, 42 participants drove an instrumented research vehicle on a closed driving course. Participants drove under a control, text reading, and text writing condition. Baseline text reading and writing data were also collected outside of the research vehicle. Results indicated that impairment associated with texting while driving may be greater than previously thought. Principally, when reading or writing texts, drivers exhibited reductions in reaction time that were nearly twice as great as previously thought. Drivers also exhibited nearly identical impairment in the reading and writing conditions, suggesting that both reading and writing text messages may be equally dangerous. These results have immediate implications for improving our understanding of the dangers of texting while driving and may be useful for future public policy discussions.

Keywords: Texting, Distracted Driving, Distraction, Mobile Device Use, Impairment

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 1.2 MB)