On the day Lord Ahmed has been jailed for dangerous driving, evidence that he sent and received text messages whilst travelling at speeds of up to 60mph on a motorway before being involved in a fatal collision highlights research by the Royal Automobile Club Foundation that texting whilst driving poses an unacceptable risk.
A report published by the Foundation in September 2008 revealed that 48% of UK drivers aged between 18-24 sent texts whilst driving*.
The Director of the Foundation Professor Stephen Glaister said, "Today's case confirms that texting is not just a problem limited to the young. Our research proved that reaction times deteriorated by just over a third whilst texting on mobile phones - a figure that was much worse than driving whilst at the legal drink/drive limit."
"The job of alerting drivers to the very real dangers of being distracted at the wheel, particularly when they use mobile phones, has to be a priority for the Government."
*RAC Foundation poll of 2002 Facebook users.
Summary of research:
Carrying out the first UK research into the effects of texting while driving, the RAC Foundation and TRL used TRL's driving simulator to research the effects of writing, reading and ignoring text messages on the driving skills of a test group of 17 - 24 year old motorists. In all key measures of driving performance, young people who were texting and driving were badly affected:
- Reaction times deteriorated by over one-third (35%). This was worse than alcohol at the legal limit (12% slower) and driving under the influence of cannabis (21% slower)
- Drivers drifted out of their lane more often. Steering control was 91% worse, compared to 35% worse when under the influence of cannabis.
- The ability to maintain a safe following distance fell.
In November 2007, a woman driver sent and received more than 20 texts at the wheel before she hit and killed a motorist in a stationary car on the A40 in Oxford. She was recently jailed for 21 months and banned for driving for 3 years.