More Dangerous Than Previously Thought
Is your company protected?
The results of a recent study indicate texting while driving is more dangerous than previously thought, according to a Reuters’ article by Jim Forsyth published in October 2011. Conducted by Texas A&M University’s Texas Transportation Institute, the study replicated actual driving conditions by having participants drive cars on a test track. Earlier studies involved test subjects driving simulators.
“Essentially texting while driving doubles a driver’s reaction time,” Christine Yager, who led the study at Texas A&M University’s Texas Transportation Institute. “That makes a driver less able to respond to sudden roadway dangers.”
In the study, 42 drivers between the ages of 16 and 54 drove on an 11-mile test track course while sending or receiving
text messages, and drove it again while focusing completely on the road. Drivers were to stop when they saw a flashing yellow light and their reaction times were recorded.
The driver who was not texting typically responded within one to two seconds. However, the driver who was texting took three to four seconds to respond and he or she was 11 times more likely to miss the flashing light altogether. There was no difference in response time between either reading or sending a text.
The three to four seconds in response is significant, according to Yager, because during that period a vehicle traveling at highway speeds can move the length of a football field. Studies reported by both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation indicate that cell phone use was reported in as much as 18 percent of all fatal crashes.
The danger of texting while driving has not gone unnoticed by state legislators. According to the Insurance Institute
for Highway Safety’s statistics for November 2011, the District of Columbia and 35 states ban texting for all drivers (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan,
Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska); seven have a partial ban (Missouri, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia and New Mexico) and eight states have no ban (Florida, South Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Arizona and Hawaii).
Given the growing research demonstrating the hazards of using a cell phone while driving, particularly regarding texting, is your company protected? Do you have a written policy in place addressing personal or company cell phone use by employees on the job, particularly if they are also driving company vehicles? If you don’t, you could be exposing yourself to increased risk, especially when an auto accident involves personal injury. To make sure you’re protected,
contact your Brown & Brown agent today. That agent can review your unique situation and recommend steps to reduce your risk and decrease your liability.