School of Population Health

Study highlights need to look more closely at texting while driving

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Texting while driving is a particularly risky form of distracted driving, negatively affecting nearly all aspects of driving performance and substantially increasing the risk of a crash. It's also likely associated with other risky behaviours such as the inconsistent use of seat belts. 
Preventing distracted driving, including texting, has become an important road safety goal; yet, to date, evaluations of legislation to reduce texting while driving has had inconsistent results.
A new study has examined the combined impact of enhanced sanctions, high-visibility enforcement campaigns, and targeted public education on texting while driving among adult drivers in Ontario, Canada. 
The new measures resulted in a significant change in behaviour with a 13.4% drop in texting while driving after they were introduced.
The study found the odds of texting while driving declined by 42% during the 15 months following these measures; and that the decline was most pronounced among drivers who reported texting while driving more frequently.
Tracey Ma, a researcher from the School of Public Health and Community Medicine (SPHCM) involved in the study, said: "Distracted driving is a serious and growing road safety issue, and it may become more pronounced as new technologies pop up." 
"Our findings provide an indication of the impact that a coordinated strategy can have on reducing this behaviour. Going forward, it will be important to monitor the long term consistently in these behavior changes, using a range of data sources" she says. 
"Our findings also highlight the need to look more closely at texting while driving across all age groups." 
Read the paper published in Traffic Injury Prevention.

Photo by Roman Pohorecki from Pexels

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School of Public Health and Community Medicine (SPHCM)