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Dangers Of Texting While Driving

April 3, 2012

Texting while driving is illegal in 35 states of America. Just how dangerous is the task? Dr. Alex Chaparro and other human factors psychologists at Wichita State University set out, to find out.

“The purpose of our research first was to look at comparing texting and talking, and try to look at why texting might be worse than talking,” said Dr. Chaparro in a interview on

Research was conducted with driving simulators. One student was in charge of texting the driver a word. The driver was responsible for trying to navigate the course, while deciding if the word was a fruit, a state or a drink. The driver then texted the answer back.

“When a person is texting, they don’t maintain their lane position as well. They don’t maintain their speed as well. They are slower to detect things in their environment and respond, and slower to slow down, or avoid the object,” said Dr. Chaparro.

Research shows each driver looked inside the car about 50 times when texting while driving, in about a five minute scenario.

“It’s the combinations of the physical demand of interacting with a device, and attention demands of thinking of what you’re going to say, and how you’re going to reply, that really seem to come together and create a dangerous situation for the driver and other people on the roadway,” said Dr. Chaparro.

Students admit, the research has dramatically changed their views on texting while driving.

“It makes me very nervous, because I know how poorly I’m performing in this task. To think some people are actually doing this in the real world, make me really nervous,” said Samantha Jansen, WSU doctoral student.

“If you’re going to text and drive, do them at different times,” said Dr. Chaparro.

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