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Distracted Driving May Be More Dangerous Than Drunk Driving

April 28, 2005

Drivers who are distracted by talking on their cellular phones or fiddling with their car radios may perform worse than drivers who are drunk, according to an April 27 Associated Press story.A test conducted by the University of Minnesota put drivers in a simulator that had them driving down a rural highway. Their task was to maintain a safe distance between themselves and a lead car.Half of the participants got drunk before getting into the simulator. Another group of sober drivers had a speaker in the car, and the researchers talked to them as though they were on a phone. A third group of sober drivers, saw images of the radio, fan or air conditioner projected onto the dash, and they had to adjust their car dials to match it.Those talking on the cell phone or fiddling with their car controls dropped farther behind the lead car than those who were just driving. Those two groups tended to do a worse job of staying in their lanes and maintaining a consistent speed, the AP report said.Often the worst driving was by those fiddling with the dials, and frequently the drunken drivers did as well or better than either of the sober multitasking drivers, according to the report.
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