Does Texting Affect Reaction Time?

Over 3,000 people were killed in 2017 alone as a result of texting and driving accidents, according to figures provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

According to a report on the effects of reading and writing text-based messages while driving, a person’s reaction time goes up by a factor of two when they are distracted by either reading or sending a text message while behind the wheel.

The study found that reaction times while driving when the driver was not participating in any sort of texting activity typically fell between one and two seconds or so. However, reaction times while texting were as high as four seconds. Worse yet, drivers who participated in the study were more than 10 times more likely to miss a flashing light built into the experiment as a test of driver attention as the participants drove and texted behind the wheel.

The results of the experiment were clear: texting while driving slows reaction time.

Other Effects on Driving

Beyond causing reaction delays, texting while driving also impairs a driver’s ability to maintain proper lane discipline and to keep their speed constant. In general, when compared against a non-texting control group, individuals who text and drive are less able to:

  • Safely maintain their position in their lane while texting.
  • Keep their speed constant while texting; texting drivers tend to slow down as they redirect their attention from the road to their phone screens.
  • Identify risks on the road as well as non-texting drivers are able to.

While almost 100% of people understand that texting while driving is extremely dangerous and should be avoided, almost half of all drivers admit to having texted while driving at some point in the past. Adults more so than teens at that!

One of the main reasons people text and drive, beyond the obvious reason of not wanting to miss what might be an important or interesting message, is that they do not realize how far their vehicle travels per second. As mentioned above, reaction times of people texting and driving from behind the wheel were found to be twice that of non-texting drivers. A one-second delay, at an average speed of 50 miles per hour, means traveling an additional 70 feet or so before the driver notices changes in road conditions or realizes that they need to stop. That means completely blowing past (or into) an intersection, a blocked roadway, or into the vehicle in front of you.

Need Help with Your Texting and Driving Accident Case?

If you’ve been involved in a texting and driving accident, speak with a lawyer. The damages, injuries, and legal proceedings that arise after an accident can be substantial, as is the time it takes to build a case, file a claim, or defend yourself in a civil suit. A legal expert in the field of vehicular accidents can tell you more about your rights and responsibilities after being involved in a texting and driving accident and can help you file a case for damages as applicable to your case.

Author: Staff