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Texting while driving? It takes 3x longer to react, finds IIT-B survey

The results of the study showed an alarming increase in the driver's reaction time for all of these scenarios.

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Texting while driving? It takes 3x longer to react, finds IIT-B survey
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It takes 40 per cent more time for motorists talking on phone to react to pedestrian crossing as opposed to an alert driver, reveals an IIT-B study. Drivers indulged in texting and chatting take 204 per cent more time in responding to the same situation, says the survey.

The study was conducted with 100 licensed drivers of three age groups at the institute's lab. Using a simulator, the participants drove under five scenarios. For each of these scenarios, the total drive was 3.5-km long, and had one hazardous event – a parked vehicle or a pedestrian crossing the road. The researchers then measured the 'reaction time' for each driver.

The results of the study showed an alarming increase in the driver's reaction time for all of these scenarios.

For the hazardous event of pedestrian crossing, drivers having a simple conversation took 40 per cent longer to react, compared to those who did not use a phone. The scenario where drivers indulged in complex texting took thrice the time. The self-triggered transformation of human into 'sloths' is a cause for concern as they add to the loss of lives on roads. The use of mobile phones while driving resulted in 2,138 deaths in 2016, according to data released by the transport ministry. There were 172 such fatalities in Maharashtra in that year.

The IIT-B researchers said the findings were similar when handling the other hazardous event of a parked vehicle crossing the road. Here, simple conversation caused a 48 per cent increase in reaction time while complex texting caused a 171 per cent increase.

"The main reason behind the increased reaction time during the use of the phones is the reduced scanning of the roadway ahead, and thus a failure to notice sudden events which leads to a huge increment in the reaction time", said Nagendra R Velaga, associate professor at IIT-B who conducted the research along with his co-author Pushpa Choudhary.

"The findings of the study may serve as an informative reminder to society that phone use during driving is not only harmful to the person who is driving but also to other road users" added Velaga.

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