Distractions deadlier than drunken driving

May 10, 2010 at 5:30 PM

COLLEGE STATION, Texas, May 10 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers suggest distractions may be killing more teenage drivers than drunken driving.

Researchers at the Driver Seat Center of the Texas Transportation Institute in College Station, Texas, say a report on the effect of lighting conditions and alcohol on crashes in all 50 states found alcohol use as a contributing factor increasing for older drivers but decreasing slightly for teen drivers.

Nevertheless, the number of all night-time crashes including teen crashes has been steadily increasing. However, in the case of teens, alcohol isn't the reason for the crashes.

The researchers suggest distractions -- especially texting while driving -- may be at fault.

Study researcher Russell Henk notes night-time crashes are a combination of visibility challenges caused by dark conditions, slower response time brought about by fatigue and lack of experience driving under such conditions -- especially for young drivers.

"Being on a cell phone behind the wheel impairs our driving ability," Henk says in a statement. "When you add the night-time danger, you create the perfect storm and that storm is much more severe for young drivers, largely because of their lack of driving experience."

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