A reader is encouraged by this study:
At last! If cell phone use and texting were such great risks to safety, there would be carnage in the streets. But there’s not. No statistical correlation that I’ve seen.
Am I a shill for the cell phone companies? No. The reason for the lack of carnage is that the specific distraction of communicating (by whatever means) is offset by an overall increase in attentiveness. Think of doing a long-distance drive. It’s easy to be sleepy or inattentive. Your senses are at a low. But if you have a task – practically any task – you are more generally aware. Your mind is functioning at a higher level. So that’s why the streets aren’t littered with bodies. For every bus driver who plows into the back of someone’s car while texting, I’d suggest that there are several who understand the risks of what they’re doing and are concentrating hard to counteract the distraction.
Which raises the question: How could we raise everyone’s overall attentiveness without the negatives inherent to cell phones? That’s what we should be asking.
Another points out:
The study you link to only studied voice calls while driving, not texting. Further down in the link it reads:
Our study focused solely on talking on one’s cellphone. We did not, for example, analyze the effects of texting or Internet browsing, which has become much more popular in recent years. It is certainly possible that these activities pose a real hazard.
And, to answer your question, texting while driving is dangerous.
What the LSE study totally misses is how consumers are using their phones today. From 2002 – 2005, I bet the primary usage of mobile phones was still to talk to somebody, so the only time somebody should look away from the road is while dialing or answering their phone. Today people are texting, tweeting, and reading emails etc.; smartphone technology has provided a huge increase in the visual experience of using a phone, which means more reasons and more time looking away from the road.
I used to ride a motorcycle to work. Cyclists and motorcyclists are extremely aware of driver behavior because we’re so much more vulnerable than drivers if we crash. I can tell you from personal experience that the amount of distracted driving going on now has just become too much; its gotten much worse in the past five years as mobile technology has become more advanced and more engaging. If I saw a distracted driver, 95% of the time if I would also see that little bright phone screen being held and read. I had one too many close calls even as a very defensive rider, so I just stopped and today I take the bus.