New Study: Texting & Driving More Dangerous Than Driving Under Influence

Texting while driving is more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to a new study from researchers in the School of Communication.

Published in the latest issue of Communication Research Reports, authors Paola Pascual-Ferra, Yu Liu and Michael J. Beatty found a “growing national epidemic” of texting (p. 228), in which “misuse can produce disastrous consequences” (p. 235).

In the article, the authors analyzed an exhaustive 80 articles on effect sizes of texting, alcohol ingestion and marijuana use and calculated their average effect sizes of impairment.

They write: “In recent years, text messages or ‘texting’ has become a pervasive form of communication. Unfortunately, however, many people text while driving, prompting a growing concern that texting while driving poses a potential risk to public safety” (p. 228).

“When the effects of experimental studies testing the effects of texting, alcohol consumption, and marijuana use are converted to a common metric (i.e., correlation coefficients) and the average effect weighted for sample size is calculated, it is abundantly clear that the effect of text messaging while driving rivals that attributable to alcohol and surpasses that of marijuana use. Noteworthy also are the magnitudes of the effects. … Simply put, the more drivers engage in text messaging while driving, the more unsafe their driving behavior and performance” (pp. 234-235).

Pascual-Ferra is a doctoral student, Liu graduated from the doctoral program this year, and Dr. Beatty is a professor of Communication.

The article is entitled “A Meta-Analytic Comparison of the Effects of Text Messaging to Substance-Induced Impairment on Driving Performance.” 

Pascual-Ferrá, P., Liu, Y., & Beatty, M. J. (2012). A Meta-Analytic Comparison of the Effects of Text Messaging to Substance-Induced Impairment on Driving Performance. Communication Research Reports, 29(3), 227-238. doi:10.1080/08824096.2012.696079


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