A recent road test by Car & Driver Magazine shows that driving while texting, also known as DWT, has a more dramatic effect on reaction times than was previously suspected.
In what is believed to be the first test of the effects of DWT ever conducted using real world situations, two drivers were tested on their ability to brake while reading and writing text messages while actually behind the wheel. Previous tests on the effects of DWT had been conducted using driving simulators.
The tests were conducted on 37-year-old Car & Driver editor-in-chief, Eddie Alterman and one of the magazine’s interns, 22-year-old Jordan Brown, to determine the role, if any, that age plays in a driver’s ability to text while driving.
A Honda Pilot was used as the test vehicle for the study. Both drivers were instructed to drive in a straight line and apply the brake when a light flashed on the dashboard to provide baseline reaction times for each driver.
Each driver subsequently read a text message while driving the same course. The third phase of the test involved typing a text message while driving. A final test compared the effects of texting while driving with those of driving while intoxicated.
All tests were conducted on the same day, on the same stretch of road, under identical road conditions.
The test results were impressive to say the least.
Driving sober at 35 mph, 22-year-old Jordan Brown needed an extra 21 feet before applying the brake while reading a text message and required an extra 16 feet while writing a text message.
Driving sober at 70 mph, Brown needed an extra 30 extra feet before responding to the dashboard light and an extra 31 feet before braking while composing a text message.
When intoxicated, the 22-year-old required an additional 7 feet when driving at 35 mph and an extra 15 feet when driving at 70 mph. When operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol, Brown also had to be told twice which lane he was to drive in.
The results were worse for 37-year-old Alterman. Driving at 35 mph, Alterman needed an extra 188 feet before stepping on the brake while reading a text message and an extra 90 feet when composing a text message.
When the test was repeated at speeds of 70 mph, he required an additional 129 feet before applying the brake while reading a text message and a whopping 319 extra feet when composing a message.
When tested under the influence those numbers deteriorated even more, with response times resulting in an extra 7 feet when driving at 35 mph and an additional 15 feet in the 70 mph test.