TOOL BOX TALKS by SMS: The Science Behind Texting and Driving

We all know the dangers of texting and driving that has been publicized very thoroughly over the past few years, most notably the study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The study, using long-haul truck drivers, concluded that:

• when drivers texted while driving, their collision risk was 23 times greater; and

• actively texting drivers take their eyes off of the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds.

At 55 mph, these drivers will travel the length of a football field, including the end zones, virtually with their eyes closed.

While birds may be able to get away with traveling at such speeds safely, man was not built to travel at 55 mph without help. Millions of years of evolution have given birds the sharp visual acuity to recognize and react to objects at high speeds. Man was created to walk on two feet.

The average top running speed for most of us is about 12-14 mph. Jamaican sprinter, Usain Bolt, the fastest man ever to run the 100-meter dash, was only traveling at about 27 mph when he set the world record.

When we get behind the wheel of a car or truck, we experience the same sensations of flying, such as speed and centrifugal force. But as we begin to move at speeds greater than what we were designed to handle, we have difficulty reacting. The faster motorists drive above this 15-mph threshold, the harder it is to escape the physiological limitations that separate us, - and yes, even Usain Bolt - from our high-flying friends.

When a driver attempts to text while driving, they always take at least one hand off of the wheel, eyes off the road, and mind off of the task of driving. And take into consideration that, according to a study by the Carnegie Mellon University, as powerful as the human brain is, it cannot process two ideas at the same time. Throw in texting while driving at speeds much greater than what man was created to react to and you have a deadly mix for the driver and those unfortunate enough to share the road with him. After all, we are only human.

© Safety Management Systems, Inc. | Tool Box Talks |


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