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Research proves how deadly texting while driving is

A recent joint study done by researchers at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and the University of Houston discovered some interesting factors about distracted driving.

Prior to the problem of texting and driving, those behind the wheel were traditionally distracted by things like daydreaming or being emotionally upset.

The research team focused on those three types of drivers' behavior to determine which caused the most problems. Nearly 60 volunteers drove along the same stretch of highway on four separate occasions. Randomly, they drove under normal driving conditions, and while being asked questions that mentally challenged them. Researchers also peppered them with emotionally volatile questions, and had them maneuver while sending and receiving text messages.

All distractions caused the volunteers to get shaky with the way they handled the steering wheel, yet the handling only deviated into unsafe driving trajectories when the subjects attempted to text.

One researcher hypothesized that this was due to "the function performed by a part of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex . . . [which] . . . automatically intervene[s] as an error corrector when there is conflict."

But the ACC only performs its corrective function with supportive actions from the hand-eye coordination loops of drivers. When the loop is broken while drivers are texting, the automatic intervention fails and collision risks rise.

The researcher said that drivers have a "sixth sense" keeping them on course, but texting disrupts it dangerously, corroborating what most already know — texting behind the wheel can be deadly.

If a texting driver causes an accident in which you are injured, filing a claim for damages can lead to a settlement from the insurance company.

Source: Science Daily, "'Sixth sense' protects drivers except when texting," May 12, 2016

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