"Essentially texting while driving doubles a driver's reaction time," Christine Yager, who led the study at Texas A&M University's Texas Transportation Institute, told Reuters on Wednesday.
"That makes a driver less able to respond to sudden roadway dangers."
For the study, 42 drivers between the ages of 16 and 54 drove on an 11-mile test track course while sending or receiving text messages, and drove it again while focusing completely on the road.
Drivers were asked to stop when they saw a flashing yellow light, and their reaction times were recorded, Yager said.
The typical time it took a driver who was not texting to respond to the flashing light was one to two seconds. But when the driver was texting, the reaction time extended to three to four seconds, and the texting motorist was 11 times more likely to miss the flashing light altogether.
Yager said the reaction time was the same whether the driver was typing a message or reading one.
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