Utah Accident Rate Much Higher When Motorists are Text Messaging

posted August 3, 2009 | by

The first official study of drivers texting inside their vehicles shows that the risk is actually far greater than estimates based on laboratory research. Also the new study concluded that the risk that comes from texting far surpasses the dangers of other driving distractions.

The study, performed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, fitted the cabs of long-haul trucks with video cameras for 18 months. The study found that when drivers texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not text messaging. Also measured was the time drivers took their eyes off the road to send or receive texts.

The study reports that drivers spend nearly 5 seconds looking at a text message- that is enough time to cover more than the length of a football field. Researchers say although driving a truck and car different, the findings apply to both types of automobiles.

Compared with other sources of driver distraction, “texting is in its own universe of risk,” said Rich Hanowski, the person in charge of the study.

The New York Times reports that thirty-six states do not have a ban on text messaging. Many states that do not have ban say they need more data to draft a bill to outlaw texting while driving. This study certainly provides ample date.

The issue of texting while driving has drawn attention following several nationally publicized events, including the trolley car crash that was attributed to the operator texting whiling driving.

Additionally, right here in Utah, The University of Utah published a study where college students, using a sophisticated driving simulator, showed an eight times greater crash risk when texting. David Strayer, the professor who co-wrote the U of U report gave two explanations for the simulator’s showing lower risks than the Virginia study. First, trucks are heavier and harder to maneuver and second college students might be better at multitasking and be more comfortable texting.

Regardless, the results speak for themselves. Texting while driving is an extremely dangerous distraction.

This study combined with the University of Utah study show that text messaging while driving significantly increases the chance that a Utah driver will become distracted to the point that they get into an accident. Although the Utah State legislature outlawed text messaging while driving this year, I expect that motorists will still do it. Even with the law, I don’t see that the number of people texting will driving will slow down for the foreseeable future. The chime or the alert that come with a text messaging, I think, will prove too irresistible for some motorists to pass up. From a legal liability point of view, motorists who text and cause accidents should expect that lawyers will treat this situation similarly as they treat a DUI.

A text-messaging defendant is really a plaintiff’s attorney’s dream. We know how the public feels about those that hurt others while texting. From our point of view, if we can get this defendant in front of a jury, we know they are going to get slammed. So text-messaging motorists be aware: your actions are very dangerous and if you hurt someone, there will be no shortage of attorneys anxious to take the injured person’s case.

Ron Kramer is a Utah personal injury and accident lawyer practicing throughout the state. Call the Kramer Law Group today at 801-666-3959 for a free consultation if you are in need of a Utah car accident attorney.

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