July 13, 2009

Driving, text messaging ups crash risk

Drivers are six times more likely to become distracted and cause an accident if they are text messaging, show Michigan State Medical Society statistics.

Dr. Richard E. Smith, a Detroit obstetrician/gynecologist and president of the Michigan State Medical Society, said the study by the Students Against Destructive Decisions and Liberty Mutual Insurance Group found text messaging while driving leads the list as the biggest distraction while driving.

The recent study revealed that text-messaging while driving is becoming as dangerous as drinking and driving in terms of inhibiting one's driving abilities, Smith said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found distracted drivers account for almost 80 percent of all U.S. crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes.

Top distractions among drivers are cell phone use including texting, reaching for a moving object inside the vehicle, looking at an object or event outside of the vehicle, talking with other passengers, eating, reading, applying makeup, driving angry, fidgeting with controls and loss of direction.

Driving while changing the radio is distracting enough, let alone taking your eyes off the road to type even a short sentence or two, Smith said in a statement. It's very dangerous.