Do Laws That Ban Texting While Driving Make The Road a Safer Place…or Worse?

Are new laws that ban texting while driving effective? Moreover, do they make the roads any safer? New research led by high school students shows that texting while driving is unsafe regardless of where the phone is positioned, if not more unsafe when hidden.

The study was part of a project called Generation tXt, developed and conducted by Oklahoma students and advised by faculty from the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine. Thirty students ages 15-19 participated in the study, and nearly 60 of them had been driving less than a year. Using stimulators, teens drove under three conditions: 1) without a cell phone, 2) texting with the phone hidden so they had to look down to see texts and 3) texting with the phone in a position of their choice. The simulators recorded unintentional lane shifts, speeding, crashes/near crashes and other infractions.

The results? The teens drove worse when texting regardless of whether the phone was hidden. They drifted out of lanes more often – an average of 13 times with the phone in a position of their choice, 17 times with the phone hidden and less than three times when not using cell phone – had higher crash rates – 4 while texting versus 2 without texting, and a higher total number of driving infractions while texting – 18 with the phone in a position of their choice, 22 with phone hidden and five with no cell phone.

“These data demonstrate that there is no ‘safe’ or ‘better’ position that makes texting less dangerous,” said Glade Inhofe, the high school student and lead author.

In fact, it appears that it’s even more unsafe when the phone is hidden.

Bottom line: Texting while driving is dangerous! Don’t do it!

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