Schlachman, Belsky & Weiner, P.A.

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We've been hearing in the news about all of the things that can be distractions when we are driving. With the advanced technologies available to us, we can easily be distracted by our cellphone, GPS, stereo as well as passengers in our car. A recent study released this week suggests that the anticipation of receiving a text or call is distracting enough to cause a car accident for teen drivers.

The study was developed by the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Washington. What researchers concluded is that future calls or potential text messages are an additional source of distraction and could contribute to more car accidents.

Many states have implemented bans on using your cell phone while driving, but the researchers found that these bans may actually increase the potential for accidents because drivers are trying to hide their phones from view while they check their messages.

This research was divided into two study groups. The first group looked at if a cell phone affected teen drivers' performance while texting. The study showed that teens who were texting while driving were eight times more likely to drift in out of their lanes and were twice as likely to be involved in a near crash with other cars or pedestrians. It didn't matter if their phone was hidden or in plain sight.

In general, teens that text and drive make up four times more driving mistakes and are often unaware how their inattention affects everyone on the road. This study confirms that there is no safe way to text and drive.

The second part of the study looked at whether the anticipation of a call or text increased car accidents in teens. The researchers surveyed a group of undergraduate students about their cell phone use and history of car crashes. They also completed a questionnaire that measured aspects of problem or compulsive cellphone use. What they found is that if a teen receives a text that elicits an emotion, they are more likely to be involved in a car accident.

As in other similar research studies, it provides evidence that texting or talking on a cellphone while driving, will increase car accidents.

Source: Ajc.com, "No safe way to text and drive for teens," Jennifer Warner and reviewed by Louise Chang, MD, April 30, 2012

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