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July 10, 2011

Texting most dangerous while driving: GHSA

Governors Highway Safety Association suggests texting ban for all drivers, mobile phone ban for novice drivers

By CBR Staff Writer

Though mobile phone use while driving increases crash risk, texting poses a greater risk, says a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

GHSA is a nonprofit association in the US which administers federal and state highway safety funds and implements state highway safety plans.

Its new report — Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do — reviews and summarises distracted driving research for states and also mentions distracted driving countermeasures.

The report says that distractions affect driving performance and that drivers are distracted for as much as half the driving time.

Distractions are estimated to be associated with 15 to 25% of crashes at all levels from minor property damage to fatal injury, said the report.

It warns that mobile phone use increases crash risk, but texting likely increases crash risk more than mobile phone use.

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The report also found that there is no data which proves that hands-free devices are safer than hand-held ones.

GHSA suggests that states should monitor the impact of existing hand-held cell phone bans prior to enacting new laws.

Among countermeasures, the report asks the states to consider enacting a texting ban for all drivers and a complete cell phone ban (both hands-free and hand-held) for novice drivers.

However, GHSA has also said that more research is required to be carried out on the matter.

"Despite all that has been written about driver distraction, there is still a lot that we do not know," said GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha.

"Much of the research is incomplete or contradictory. Clearly, more studies need to be done addressing both the scope of the problem and how to effectively address it," Harsha added.

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