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Texting while driving: Not safe for any age group

It is well documented that teen drivers are more likely to die in a car accident during their first year of licensure than at any other time afterward. Inexperience is a significant risk factor. When combined with another teenage proclivity - texting - inexperience behind the wheel can easily be lethal.

By this logic, one might conclude that texting and other distracted driving behaviors are safer if performed by older and more seasoned drivers. This is not to say that distracted driving is ever safe. But doesn't it stand to reason that more experienced drivers could handle distractions with less risk of a car accident? As it turns out, the answer is no - at least not when it comes to texting.

A study that was published in a recent issue of the journal "Accident Analysis and Prevention" examined the distracted driving capabilities of drivers of various ages. All 50 test participants, between the ages of 18 and 59, were in driving simulators during the study and not actual cars.

The whole group of study participants seemingly did poorly, in that they regularly drifted into other lanes while trying to send or read texts. But on the whole, older drivers were much less successful at texting while driving - even those who were "prolific texters."

Older, experienced drivers may be able to handle other sources of driving distraction more safely than their younger counterparts. But for a number of reasons, young and inexperienced drivers were more "successful" at texting while driving.

Of course, it should be noted that no one is actually safe when they text and drive. In some ways, the premise of this study is analogous to asking which motorists can drive drunk "safely." Nonetheless, the results of this study send a message that is both positive and powerful. That message is: No one should be texting and driving, regardless of their age or self-assessed skills.

Source: The Washington Post, "More experienced drivers are actually worse at texting and driving, study shows," Elahe Izadi, Dec. 18, 2014

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