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Study Ranks Driving Distractions by Likelihood to Cause You to Crash

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Man on phone yelling at car

We’ve been harping for quite a while about how driving while distracted can be dangerous. Well, break out that fine wooden bow and tune up the strings, because researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in which the institute figured out which driving distractions were the most dangerous.

At the very top of the list, of course, was the clear winner of driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs, which multiplies chances of getting into a crash by 36 times. Second place, surprisingly, went to dialing a phone, which increased risk of crashing by 12 times.

Third place at 10 times increased risk was a tie between reading or writing and simply driving while crying or visibly angry. Next on the list was reaching for a non-cellphone item at nine times, followed by texting at six times, reaching for a phone at five times, and browsing a phone or email at three times the risk.

None of this is too much of a revelation, although crying while driving or being visibly angry while driving climbing this high up on the list is somewhat surprising. Then again, maybe it shouldn’t, since high emotions are a pretty serious distraction.

The data for the study was collected by the Second Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study (catchy!), which used cameras and sensors to monitor 3,500 vehicles for speed, acceleration, and GPS location, which lets the researchers determine where the driver’s eyes were directed just before the crash.

News Source: The New York Times