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Study: Texting is worst distraction

BLACKSBURG, Va., July 27 (UPI) -- Drivers texting in their vehicles run a far greater risk of collision than drivers facing other distractions, Virginia Tech researchers said.

"Texting is in its own universe of risk," compared with other sources of driver distraction, said Rich Hanowski, who oversaw the study.

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The school's Transportation Institute compiled the research and will release its findings in detail Tuesday.

The institute outfitted the cabs of long-haul trucks with video cameras for 18 months and found the collision risk was 23 times greater when drivers were sending text messages. Researchers also measured how long drivers take their eyes from the road to send or receive texts, The New York Times reported.

Drivers spend almost five seconds looking at their phones in the moments before a crash or near-crash. At highway speeds, a vehicle can cover more than 100 yards in five seconds.

The researchers said they believe the findings apply to all drivers, even though trucks take longer to stop and are less maneuverable than cars.

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