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Texts worse than drugs when driving

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Texting while driving is more of a danger to other motorists than being drunk or on drugs behind the wheel, a study has shown.

TRL transport research laboratory tested young drivers and found reaction times were severely impaired while texting, as well as steering ability and keeping a safe distance from other vehicles.

Using a driving simulator, motorists aged 17 to 24 year carried out a number of skills tests.

For those engaged in texting, reaction times deteriorated by 35%. This was worse than alcohol at the legal limit at 12% slower and driving under the influence of cannabis, 21% slower.

Drivers were found to drift out of their lane more often, with steering control 91% worse compared to 35% worse when under the influence of cannabis.

The report concluded that texting had the greatest impact on lane positioning and the second greatest impact on reaction times, second only to using a hand-held phone.

A TRL spokesman said: "The combination of increased mental workload required to write a text message, the control impairment caused by the physical act of holding the phone, and the visual impairment caused by continually shifting visual orientation between the phone display and the road ahead resulted in significantly impaired ability to maintain safe road position."

© The Press Association 2008