Texting And Driving Is A Driver Problem
While texting and driving has always been associated with young drivers, a new study finds that texting and driving may be more problematic for middle aged drivers. This does not mean that texting and driving is acceptable for any age group according to the study’s author, Randall Commissaris.
In a recent study, published in the Accident Analysis and Prevention journal, Mr. Commissaris explored how texting while driving affected drivers of different ages. The researchers studied 50 men and women, from ages 18 to 59 on a series of computerized road tests and according to Mr. Commissaris, found,
“that while about 25 percent of the youngest drivers would go into an oncoming lane or onto the shoulder while texting, it was virtually 100 percent among the oldest drivers.”
Texting And Driving Study Findings
According to the study, texting ability varied amongst the participants. Seven participants described their texting ability as limited, sixteen stated their texting skills were good, twenty-seven were categorized as skilled (they could send a text using one hand). The study group was also divided into four age categories, 18-24, 25-34, 35-44 and 45-59. To test their driving skills, participants were required to drive a 4 door simulator that created a virtual roadway experience. The simulator reflected driving on a two-lane country road. There were no stop signs, lights or oncoming traffic.
During the study, participants were asked to drive several minutes at 50-60 mph while engaging in a text conversation conducted with one hand. The study found that two-thirds of the drivers crossed into another lane while being distracted by texting. Amongst the skilled texters, half of the participants committed the offense.
Looking at the data, the researchers found that nearly all the drivers in the 45-59 age category made the driving error, compared to one-quarter of those in the 18-24 and 40 percent of those 25 to 34 and 80 percent of drivers between 35-44, suggesting that the ability to handing texting while driving diminished with age. The study found no difference in driving and texting ability between genders.
According to Mr. Commissaris,
“The findings were very surprising to us,” said Commissaris, “because most of the literature on distracted driving suggests that mature drivers are better able to manage distractions. Whether it’s being involved in a cellphone conversation, talking with passengers, or checking maps.”
But, he added, “this study suggests that we really need to make sure that older drivers don’t take the attitude that they’re somehow better able to manage this particular distraction. They’re not.”
Current anti-texting-while driving messaging is aimed at young drivers. This study suggests the need to reach out to older driving. Older drivers are just as guilty of the behaviour as their younger counterparts. According to Young Drivers of Canada, texting while driving is a bad idea whether you are 16 or 60! Drivers of all ages should be aware of their actions behind the wheel.