Adults may be worse than teens at texting while driving, study shows
When it comes to texting while driving, which has been banned under Georgia law since 2010, teenage drivers are often scapegoated as the primary offenders. However, new research shows that although older drivers are less likely to text and drive, they may in fact be even more dangerous than teens when they do.
Why is texting more dangerous than other distractions?
There is no mistaking the fact texting while driving is a widespread practice among teenage drivers. According to a study published recently in the Journal of Transportation Safety and Security, about 40 percent of teens surveyed say they sometimes text while driving, and research from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found that about 25 percent of teens admit to texting every time they drive.
While texting is by no means the only form of distracted driving that contributes to a higher rate of traffic accidents, it does have certain characteristics that make it especially dangerous. For one, unlike other activities such as chatting with a passenger or changing the radio station, texting on a handheld phone occupies a driver’s eyes, hands and concentration all at once, creating a more complete level of distraction.
Another particularly hazardous aspect of texting behind the wheel is that it tends to be ongoing or repetitive rather than isolated, due to the back-and-forth nature of communicating by text message. About 20 percent of teens surveyed in the UMTRI study said they have ongoing, multi-message conversations by text message while driving. Among adult drivers, about 10 percent reported doing the same.
Different ages, different risks?
Past research has shown, and common sense suggests, that younger drivers tend to be more impaired by certain distracting activities than their more experienced counterparts. However, new research indicates that this may not necessarily be the case where texting is concerned.
A study by researchers at Wayne University, which was published recently in the journal Accident and Analysis Prevention, found that older drivers were more likely than younger drivers to swerve out of their lanes while texting – even those who described themselves as “prolific texters.”
The study was based on a group of 50 people between the ages of 18 and 59 who operated driving simulators while receiving and responding to texts asking simple questions such as “What is your favorite color?” Overall, about half of the participants crossed into the wrong lane while responding to the messages. However, this reaction varied substantially among the different age groups as follows:
- Ages 18-24: 25 percent
- Ages 25-34: 40 percent
- Ages 35-44: 80 percent
- Ages 45-59: 100 percent
The researchers are uncertain why texting tends to affect older drivers more dramatically but say they are currently looking into that question, the Washington Post reported. The authors of the study stress that all texting while driving is potentially deadly for all drivers, regardless of age, and suggest that anti-texting efforts should be expanded to include drivers of all ages instead of focusing primarily on teenagers, as many such efforts have done in the past.
Get legal help after a crash
If you or someone in your family has been hurt in a crash with a distracted driver in Georgia, you may have the right to pursue monetary compensation through the civil legal system. Contact the personal injury lawyers at Teiger Law Center to discuss the situation and find out how you may be able to recover financial compensation for your injuries and related damages, including lost income and medical expenses.