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Driver texting is HOW distracting?

By Jay MacDonald · Bankrate.com
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Posted: 6 am ET

As much as we hate to admit it, texting while driving is out of control on Main Street USA.

Be honest: When was the last time you drove to work or campus and did not see motorists head-bent at stop lights, or driving with eyes darting down, as if their free hands were on fire?

Despite the horrific toll from phone-related distractions -- 1.6 million crashes, 420,000 injuries and more than 3,000 deaths every year -- the solution to this scourge continues to slip through our fingers, much to the horror of auto insurance companies.

Of course, human nature is such that driving while texting, like running with scissors, seems harmless until someone loses -- well, name your disposable body part.

Perhaps we should approach all of this from a different perspective and instead compare motorist texting to what's apt to be the next big highway headache: Google Glass.

© Mopic/Shutterstock.com

The lure of Google Glass

Scientists recently treated a 31-year-old Navy serviceman as the first known patient with "Internet addiction disorder," brought on by wearing the head-mounted Internet device that's been the visual joke du jour on TV sitcoms this year.

After wearing his Google Glass 18 hours a day for two months, taking it off only to bathe and sleep, the patient said he became irritable and argumentative without it. When deprived of the device after checking himself into rehab for alcohol addiction, he suffered from involuntary movements, including tapping his right temple as if operating his Google Glass, as well as memory problems, cravings and even dreaming that he was wearing the device.

"He said the Google Glass withdrawal was greater than the alcohol withdrawal he was experiencing," said his doctor. Let's take a moment to ponder that thought.

So. What's that got to do with driving while texting? Funny you should ask.

But smartphones are worse for drivers

A couple weeks after the Google Glass guy blew my mind, Claims Journal ran a story entitled, "Drivers Less Distracted by Google Glass Than by Smartphones." To quote Scooby-Doo, "Ruh-roh."

The story involved a University of Central Florida study of 40 20-somethings tested in a driving simulator, which in itself sounds rather intriguing. Anyway, the researchers found (wait for it) that drivers who texted via Google Glass recovered their wits and regained control of their vehicle after a traffic incident faster than drivers who were texting by phone.

Which would seem to imply that texting drivers today are more distracted than that Jim Parsons-looking guy in the nerd helmet coming at you in the oncoming lane.

No word yet on whether a follow-up study is planned to compare the relative effects of both texting techniques on road rage.

On an optimistic note, the anticipated rollout of self-driving cars by the end of the decade should relieve motorists of the whole driving nuisance altogether, presumably freeing up time to indulge their Google Glass and texting addictions.

Follow me on Twitter: @omnisaurus

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Veteran contributing editor Jay MacDonald is co-author of "Future Millionaires' Guidebook."

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1 Comment
Jean
April 01, 2015 at 1:34 pm

I, used to belong with HOPE, and, the drivers were ALWAYS, either

texting, or they had those Bluetooth, they were talking, all the

time!

Very, distracting!