back to article Texting worse for drivers than drink or drugs

The UK's Transport Research Laboratory has established that taking your eyes off the road to look at a tiny screen held in hands that are no longer gripping the wheel is really, really dangerous. It's hard to imagine that this comes as a huge surprise to all but the most stupid, but the Times reports that in (simulator) tests …


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  1. Chris Boyle

    I do not think it means what you think it means...

    "reaction time dropped by 25 per cent for those sending text messages"

  2. Martin

    The problem is....

    ...that loads of young people do indeed believe that they are capable of driving while texting.

    Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if they think they can keep their Facebook profiles up to date safely while they are driving.

  3. Liam

    what i would like to know is...

    if being stoned hampers you soooo much how come i can kick ass on a ps3 after a 12 hour session? i can happily fly round tracks at 200mph fine.

    i would also like to know their definition of 'drunk' - is that the over the limit 1 pint drunk? or actually steaming drunk? as im considerably less coordinated after a skinful that i am when stoned (btw - i dont drink/smoke and drive)

    also a lot of people have admitted to texting whilst driving... is that when crawling along at 10mph in towns or doing 80 on a motorway?

    ahhh dont you love stats!

  4. caffeine addict


    Headline says "Texting worse for drivers than drink or drugs"

    Morans read it as "You know how texting is safe, cos you do it every day? Well drink driving is even less 'dangerous' than that!"

    Sometimes I wonder if headline writers (both in the media and in the PR firms / spin doctors) have any common sense at all...

    Yes, texting while driving is dangerous, but if this is just testing reaction times than it's crap data. Alcohol doesn't just affect your reaction times, it changes your abilities, skills, judgement. It also lasts the entire journey not just the 30 seconds you're writing the text. Writing a text message doesn't make you drive down the road with no lights on, or drive the wrong way down the motorway, or plough through a pedestrian precinct.

    Don't believe it? How many road deaths last year were put down to one driver texting and how many were down to one driver being pissed as arseholes?

  5. Marvin the Martian

    As a single mother, I think...

    [Don't you love non-sequiturs starting with that info?]

    Well, not being a single mother, I like this type of study. For example, driving a motorbike carries a slightly higher risk as driving a car while both drunk AND drugged (being just one of those two being much safer). But the big difference is that the motorbiker risks mostly him/herself [75% of accidents being one-sided, even]. The conclusion is obvious: force any person found texting in a car, to drive a motorbike [and allow them to text then]. This is a Darwinian approach, leading to superior bikers. I as a biker without driving licence strongly approve of this.

  6. Mike Crawshaw

    How on earth..?

    Do you get invited to take part in these things? Where do I sign??

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Drug addled

    You mean the the ability to juggle is a result of drug taking?! Oh, wait; you mean *affected"...

  8. James


    it is time to have cars fitted with a method of detecting where your hands are and generate a loud ear splitting noise if they aren't involved in driving activities! This would maybe advise those who appear to be so stupid that they *even* contemplate texting whilst driving.

    I have been in a bus where the driver was texting his girlfriend whilst driving at 70mph on a dual carriageway. He was reported and sacked.

    Why on earth does anyone think they are so f*cking important that they must continuously be in touch with everyone else (shortly before they become deceased forever!)?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    who funds this research?

    Does taking your eyes off the road and your hands off the steering wheel negatively impact your ability to drive?

    I don't know here take these millions of pounds to go and find out!

  10. Alastair Smith

    El Reg in "no sh*t, Sherlock" shocker!

    Carried off with your usual panache! :-)

    But surely you meant "ability to juggle is *a*ffected"...

  11. Chris

    I'm posting this whilst driving...

    ...oh shit, I've just run over an old lady on a zebra crossing...

  12. Andre Carneiro

    But surely...

    .... whilst you're drunk and/or stoned throughout the entire duration of your journey, you'll only be "impaired" for the 20 seconds it takes you to send a text, following which you'll resume your full driving abilities (such as they are)?

    It seems to follow, then, that whilst your impairment is more severe whilst texting, you'll be impaired for longer while drunk/stoned and therefore these two are still, overall, more likely to be in the origin of an incident.

    Or am I missing something crucial?

  13. Ash

    Crap stoners in this test

    I get my fastest laptimes whilst stoned. Crap stoners to be honest.

  14. Master Baker

    Another shocker

    Being a women affects your ability to drive well... by up to 100%...

    The amount of times I've been cut-up, had to brake at roundabouts due to tunnel-vision femm's and been stuck behind a little mouse driving at 30 in a national speed limit zone is incredible. Yes I agree that blokey's are usually more aggressive on the roads, but being aggressive is not dangerous in itself. What is dangerous is a women looking in the mirror and playing with her hair at 70mph+ (again, I've been behind multiple women drivers who do this - it wasn't just a one-off).

    So the headline should read something like "Being a women worse for drivers than texting, drink or drugs".

    I've got my coat and I'm out the door before the backlash can take place.... :-)

  15. oliver Stieber
    IT Angle

    texting is fine

    I can text fine, I can have a couple of beers and drive fine, I can even smoke a spliff and driver fine. The one thing that really screws up my ability to drive is when I'm trying to move some hair that's fallen infront of my face, and sneezing is a real danger too.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I think that anybody convicted of a serious driving offence should lose their licence - permanently.

    At present there is no real lasting penalty for endangering other peoples lives, and a fine or 6 month ban doesn't cut it.

    It annoys me that professional drivers have to take more advanced training, and tests, and suffer harsher penalties for irresponsible actions than the people who surround them. This level of rigour should apply to anyone who assumes control of a motor vehicle.

    For example: In the local paper a few weeks ago, there was a big write up about an accident where a couple of people were killed/injured after their car left the road and hit a tree. The most telling part of the story was where it was revealed that the car hit the tree 12 FEET above the ground ! This all took place in a 30mph limit. They may have got what they deserved, but pity any pedestrians or innocent motorists who could have been in the way.

  17. Aortic Aneurysm

    @"Morans read it as..."

    Oh dear @ Morans. dat wud be lyk me slgin ppl 4 txt spk.

    Anyway, I've been known to text whilst driving, while crawling round town at 10/20mph and also whilst on the motorways etc at speeds of 70mph + ( Yes I sometimes speed)

    Let the flaming begin,

  18. bluesxman

    the really important question is...

    How does one sign up for these tests? I quite fancy a bit of government sanctioned and funded toking in a driving simulator.

  19. Jon
    Paris Hilton

    Just imagine

    Difficult to text 'aaaaaaargh' without any vowels.

    Paris, as she too can adversely affect my grip on the wheel...

  20. Mickey Porkpies

    Using you phone whilst driving is a crime

    all we need now is a copper on the street to nick you when you do. ah... here lies the flaw in our plan!

  21. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Up

    @James - Well said!

    "Why on earth does anyone think they are so f*cking important that they must continuously be in touch with everyone else (shortly before they become deceased forever!)?"

    Exactly! Phone/text while driving, that gets my goat no end, you really a complete ass-hat of the first order. Do you really think that your that important or that invincible? Yah, well let's up the ante, you get in one of those electric cars and get it up to max speed in the fast lane, then start texting, I will then ask 10 lorry drivers high on angel dust to keep nudging you and we'll see how long you think you can last. Hey in fact, I think this is a great idea for a new game show!

    The big one is when the butt-munch involved feels the need to walk out underground station and instantly they have to have that phone out to see how important they are and how many calls they have missed while they have been out of service for all of 10 mins maximum! The upshot of this moronic behaviour is to clog the pavement area directly outside said station, while the rest us have to try to dodge around the dawdling knut, trying to make our connection to the next mode of transport!

  22. Steve
    Thumb Down

    no hands and steering with ears?

    Reg hacks clearly need to go and try this out (on a test course of course). They can steer with their knees and/or one hand and text one handed (even a pissed and stoned reg hack can text one handed).

  23. Edwin
    Jobs Horns


    Oh yes. I never see 30/40/50something audi/cayenne drivers do that. Honestly

    Off on a tangent:

    Have you ever noticed that the more expensive the car, the less likely the driver is to be using a handsfree set of some flavour?

    Maybe they could research that instead. Does it have to do with small genitalia and looking important?

    Evil Steve, 'cause trying to second-guess the iPhone's autocorrect while driving will definitely kill you.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ..In other news.

    Driving Blindfolded decreases your reaction times by 100%

  25. Simon Brown

    is there a hands free way to text?

    OK - so now if I'm called when I'm driving I've got my dinky little headset on and I press a button and go "Who is it?" cos I can't see cos my phone's on the seat next to me or in the well under the gear stick. But it's ok, I'm hands free, I'm concentrating on driving and looking at where I'm going...

    So far so good...

    But what about texting?

    To text, you need to be able to read the text and write texts. Can this be made driver-safe?

    Here's a way:

    If someone were to invent / re-purpose a bluetooth heads-up display of some kind that could go on the dashboard... with some kind of paddle-operated system mounted on the steering column similar to what racing drivers use to change gear / the rest of us use on steering-wheel mounted radio and volume controls - couldn't this be done. Obviously you wouldn't have the 12 key numerical keypad but there's bound to be some sort of workaround possible. After all, if you were in desperate need to text, you'd pull over and do it by hand.

    Also controls and a headsup display like this could be used to control a phone to make outgoing calls / screen calls.

    Just a thought....

  26. Ash


    So, there are two of us here. This could make things interesting, as if I were to admit to being a 'stoner' i'd lose my job. My boss reads this site too.

    Perhaps I should reg a new account.

  27. Martin

    @Master Baker the misogynist

    Let's ignore your anecdote-based evidence, shall we? It proves absolutely nothing.

    Let's just observe that women actually pay less for their car insurance. And insurance is based on real measured statistics. So why do women pay less for their car insurance? Because they generally have fewer accidents, and the ones they have cause less damage. As good a measure of "safer drivers" as I know.

  28. Reptar

    Yes. Text and drink.

    Does this mean that if you're driving along and you want to _safely_ text a mate you should down a few cans?

  29. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Most people die in bed ...

    so we can save lives by getting people out bed and behind the wheel of a car.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Women drivers and insurance

    "Let's just observe that women actually pay less for their car insurance. And insurance is based on real measured statistics. So why do women pay less for their car insurance? Because they generally have fewer accidents, and the ones they have cause less damage. As good a measure of "safer drivers" as I know."

    "Safer" because they, on average, drive fewer miles per insurance period at, on average, lower speeds.

    There are shitwits of both sexes behind the wheels of our nations' autos.

  31. Stephen Taylforth


    Wasn't there some research that showed that hands free sets were just as dangerous as using a mobile with your paws ? They'd already put the legislation in place so they didn't bother putting an outright ban on using phones while driving.........

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (no title)

    Hmmm I reckon I could become 12% more careful after a skinfull. So that's alright then, cheers !

  33. philbo

    @Chris Boyle (aka Inigo?)

    > "I do not think it means what you think it means..."

    You beat me to it...

    Here's something wot I wrote earlier - as part of a general anti-mobile-using-driver rant:

    One more modern habit that has got me so perplexed

    These blokes who think it's safe to drive while they're composing texts

    At least, I say they think it's safe, they got a ****ing gall

    From where I'm ****ing standing, they don't ****ing think at all

  34. eclairz

    Would you admit it?

    "Don't believe it? How many road deaths last year were put down to one driver texting and how many were down to one driver being pissed as arseholes?"

    How many people would readily admit to crashing due to texting, thats even dumber than texting while driving

  35. Rob

    @Ash, make that 3 :)

    @The Fuzzy Wotnot - I have a solution to that, it works very well. Wait for said idiot to stop in front of you and barge really hard into the back of them, they will either drop their phone or they will fall flat on their face. If they complain just say sorry you were looking at your mobile phone :)

    @Simon Brown - yup there is, it's called a BMW or Mercedes (can't remember which models coe with this HUD and phone features).

  36. Liam


    @ "Let's just observe that women actually pay less for their car insurance. And insurance is based on real measured statistics. So why do women pay less for their car insurance? Because they generally have fewer accidents, and the ones they have cause less damage. As good a measure of "safer drivers" as I know."

    playing devils advocate here... but strictly not right...

    i think most people will agree that men drive, generally, a lot more miles per year (how many mums do the driving as opposed to dad, how many female reps, salespeople do you see?)

    so maybe women are less likely to have an accident but the fact is they drive much less... so if you do an average of miles/crash you would get a more realistic (gu)estimate.

    i can also say that the vast majority of women drivers i know are far from safe... why the hell does my mum feel the need to talk with her hands whilst driving?

  37. Kanhef
    Thumb Up

    re: drug addled

    Good to see some people still know English.

  38. Paul

    @Simon Brown

    "But what about texting?"

    You shouldn't be doing it while driving, ever. How bloody hard is that to grasp, exactly? Pull over and stop, or better yet, get out of the mindset that you have to answer that call/read that text RIGHT NOW. It can wait, you know.

    "To text, you need to be able to read the text and write texts. Can this be made driver-safe?"

    No, it can't, unless you go to a fully voice-controlled system, with voice-to-txt-to-voice and handsfree. Which still isn't 100% safe, you're still being distracted to a degree but at least your hands are on the controls and your eyes on the road.

    While you're reading or writing a text, even on your suggested heads-up display with specially adapted controls, you're focusing on the text and reading or writing the text, not on the road ahead or interpreting the visual cues your vehicle is hurtling toward.

    HUDs are great for stuff like your speed which matter as part of driving, but writing a txt 2 ur m8 has fuck all to do with driving and doesn't belong behind the wheel.

  39. Paul

    Hell yeah!

    Free weed and driving games, Where do I sign up?!


    Theres no smoke without fire...

  40. Fred

    Solution - talking too

    ALL cellphones are now equipped with GPS -

    lets USE it.

    The GPS can be used to determine the velocity of the phone.

    If (velocity > Max_Allowed_Movement_Speed)

    Disconnect_Call = True

    Allow_Incoming_Call = False

    Allow_Outgoing_Call = False

    Allow_Emergency_Call = True

    Disconnect_Text_Message = True

    Allow_Text_Outgoing_Message = False

    Allow_Text_Incoming_Message = False


    <all of above = true>

    end if

    Max_Allowed_Movement_Speed = 8 mph/12 kph

    this speed allows usage in stopped (very slow) traffic, while walking, running.

  41. Jim


    So you are suggesting that mobiles shoiuld not be allowed to operate on public transport? Oh, hang on...

  42. Phil Parker

    Car restoration for free...

    Method, buy a batter classic car. Drive around town until you see a muppet on the phone or texting and pull up a bit sharply in front of them. Then when you make the insurance claim, demand the other drivers mobile records are pulled up.

    Mind you when they know what you plan they will probably admit liability. I was hit by a solicitor once who got out with his reasonably freshly lit fag and he amited it was his fault straight away !

  43. Stevie


    Idiots will find a way to not drive no matter how poor the tech available to them. Case in poiint:

    In '95 I was cruising west on the Southern State Parkway on Long Island, NY at five am. I overtook a gentleman who was driving at 50 MPH while reading the New York Times (a three foot wide bedsheet that he had spread out over that little round lectern thing cars have just in front of all those dials) while clutching a breakfast sandwich in one hand and a cup of piping hot coffee in the other.

    I am not making this up.

    I can only assume he was steering with his knees a-la John Candy in "Trains Planes and Automobiles".

    Apparently, against all reason, you have to tell some people that even though they have cruise control and an automatic gearbox they still have to be there.

  44. elderlybloke

    Have a co-pilot

    Recently , only about 50 years ago, I worked for a fellow who smoked.

    He rolled his own cigs.(do they still have those?) and as he controlled the steering wheel with his knees ,

    all I had to do was to make regular course corrections from the passengers seat , as the car headed off the road..

    We survived about 5 years of that behaviour .

    I see the post from Stevie , that such things still go on, and even more so than my generation did.

  45. Scott L. Burson

    Texting kills

    Seriously -- here in California we just recently had a very serious train wreck caused by an engineer texting. He paid with his life, and the lives of 25 others.

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