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Texting while driving dangerous, study confirms: How dangerous?

A teenager texting on her phone and looking away from the road
Keep your phone and other devices out of your hands while driving. Make a commitment and stick to it. IStockphoto

(CBS/AP) Just how dangerous is texting while driving? Aamof, no1 is lol abt rslts of l8test stdy ("as a matter of fact, no one is laughing out loud about results of latest study" for you texting newbies). It showed that reading or writing a text message behind the wheel more than doubles a driver's reaction time.

PICTURES - OK 2 txt & drive? 16 states say sure

"Our findings suggest that response times are even slower than what we originally thought," said Christine Yager, the researcher who managed the Texas Transportation Institute study. "Texting while driving basically doubles a driver's reaction time and makes the driver less able to respond to sudden roadway dangers, if a vehicle were to make a sudden stop in front of them or if a child was to run across the road."

Reaction times slowed from one to two seconds in the absence of texting to three to four seconds while texting. To put the findings in context, Yager said drivers going 30 mph travel 220 feet in five seconds. At 60 mph, a driver covers 440 feet in five seconds, she said.

The study also found texting impaired the ability of drivers to maintain proper lane position and a constant speed.

"If you're on a freeway where the speed limit is 60 in rush hour and a vehicle suddenly stops in front of you, that's not enough time to react if your eyes are glanced down at your phone," Yager said.

Is it safer to read a text than to compose one? The study found little difference in response times between the activities.

For the study, 42 drivers between 16 and 54 years of age drove on closed course in vehicles equipped with a flashing light and a monitoring system. Drivers in the study were more than 11 times more likely to miss the flashing light altogether when they were texting.

Texting and driving has already been deemed dangerous, with 34 states adopting texting and driving bans, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

In 2009, nearly 5,500 people died and half a million were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. Distraction-related fatalities represented 16 percent of traffic fatalities in 2009, the agency said. It's unclear how many of those fatalities can be blamed on texting.

"If you look down to text for just a few seconds at 55 miles per hour, your car travels the length of a football field while you're not looking at the road," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement responding to the study. "Texting and talking on the phone while driving can be deadly, and drivers have a responsibility to put away these distracting devices every time they get behind the wheel."

Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, said the study bolsters the group's push for a texting ban in every state.

Said Adkins, ""Texting while driving is dangerous and drivers really don't have any business texting while driving, no text is that important."

Ugtr (you got that right).

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