Surprise! Texting and Driving Is Still A Bad Idea

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If you're still texting and driving, what is wrong with you? 

A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports shows that texting and driving is far more dangerous than doing many other things while driving, including eating, adjusting music, and using the in-vehicle navigation system. Researchers found that in some cases, texting while driving is just as dangerous as drinking and driving.

The report evaluates how 59 drivers navigate a road while texting. They frequently veered from their lanes, and were even more dangerous than those who appeared to be in some sort of emotional turmoil.

"The driver's mind can wander and his or her feelings may boil, but a sixth sense keeps a person safe at least in terms of veering off course," lead author Ioannis Pavlidis, a computer science professor at the University of Houston's Computational Physiology Lab, told the Huffington Post in an interview. "What makes texting so dangerous is that it wreaks havoc onto this sixth sense."

Researchers also found that texters tended to be a bit more "jittery" at the wheel than those who are not texting. Even when challenged with mind-boggling questions, the same level of emotional arousal was not seen, according to the researchers.

Texting while driving has become one of the most concerning threats to safe driving. Indeed, while vehicles have become safer and anti-drinking-and-driving efforts have paid off, texting is one of the leading causes of accidents. The US government has gone so far as to call texting and driving "the most alarming distraction" on the road.

Looking ahead, companies are eyeing ways to turn the tide of texting and driving. Apple and Google, for instance, have invested in in-car technologies that make voice dictation and hearing text messages out loud easier. Smaller companies, including Logitech, are also developing accessories intended to keep your eyes on the road.

Not surprisingly, lawmakers are starting to step in. Last month, two New York state lawmakers introduced legislation that would allow police to use technology that is being referred to as a breathalyzer for texting. If passed, the law would require drivers involved in a crash to submit their phone to roadside testing via a so-called "Textalyzer." Details are scant, but the technology involved is under development at Israeli mobile forensics firm Cellebrite.

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