Thursday 18 September 2008

Texting worse than drink driving

Texting while driving is riskier than driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a study has suggested. The Transport Research Laboratory found that motorists who use their mobile phone to send text messages while on the road dramatically increase the likelihood of collision. Their reaction times deteriorated by 35 per cent, much worse than those who drank alcohol at the legal limit, who were 12 per cent slower, or those who had taken cannabis, who were 21 per cent slower. In addition, drivers who sent or read text messages were more prone to drift out of their lane, the research found, with steering control by texters 91 per cent poorer than that of drivers devoting their full concentration to the road.

Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, which commissioned the research, said: “No responsible motorist would drink and drive. We need to ensure that text devotees understand that texting is one of the most hazardous things that can be done while in charge of a motor car.” Despite it being illegal for a motorist to use a handheld phone behind the wheel, the RAC Foundation said that nearly half of British drivers aged between 18 and 24 admitted to texting on the roads. Yet only 144,000 people were prosecuted for using their mobile while driving last year.

Will Gordon Brown announce immediate action to legislate and save hundreds of cyclists and pedestrians from being killed in the future by texting drivers? Will David Cameron attack the government for its complacency and inaction? Will senior police officers announce a massive programme of enforcement, akin to the resources put in to policing the climate change demo in Kent?

No of course they bloody won’t. Road violence is institutionally acceptable.

Meanwhile let me record the latest couple of mobile phone maniacs I spotted locally:

T859 JKR, male driver, St James’s Street E17, 12.35 pm, 14 September

RL51 HRX, woman with a car full of kids, 11.10 am, Hoe Street E17, 15 September