Just in case it was ever needed, a Belgian road safety campaign group has found proof of just how dangerous texting and driving is – by getting young drivers to give it a try on a test track.
The results are predictably disastrous, with footage of the experiment – called ‘The Impossible Texting and Driving Test’ – uploaded to YouTube.
The Belgium-based Responsible Young Drivers (RYD) group fooled the young motorists into thinking that a new law had been passed requiring them to pass a ‘texting and driving exam’. An instructor at the Brussels Driving Centre tells them: ‘You must prove you’re able to use your mobile phone while driving.’
The drivers are aghast, with one saying: ‘Plenty of people will crash, I’m telling you.’ Their task is to tap out a message on a mobile phone while attempting to drive the car around the track and in between cones. None of them perform very well.
The instructor has to help steer one student and bangs his head on the dash board during another attempt when the learner slams on the brakes in panic. ‘It’s impossible,’ exclaims one driver. ‘I can’t do it,’ says another.
The RYD hopes the footage will persuade drivers to leave their mobiles well alone while behind the wheel. The texting test follows a study produced by Texas A&M University’s Transportation Institute produced that highlighted the dangers of using phones while driving. Researchers found that texting greatly extends reaction teams.
Lead author Christine Yager said: ‘Essentially texting while driving doubles a driver’s reaction time.
‘That makes a driver less able to respond to sudden roadway dangers.’ Ms Yager said the reaction time was the same whether the driver was typing a message or reading one. She added: ‘The act of reading and writing a text message are equally impairing and equally dangerous.’