March 14, 2013, 7:18 PM —
Image credit: Flickr/VERSAGEEK
An experiment by scientists in Australia shows that sending text messages, or even using a hands-free device, impairs motorists in a way similar to driving drunk.
The experiment was conducted by researchers from several Australian universities in collaboration with the University of Barcelona.
A dozen college students participated in the experiment, which measured their reaction capacity in a simulated driving test. Some of the volunteers took the test after drinking alcohol, while others used a mobile phone while "driving."
By comparing the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) with the effects of mobile phone usage, researchers saw that when the telephone conversation required high cognitive demand or when answering a text message, the BAC test was above legal limits in Spain (0.5 gram/litre). Headphones and a microphone were used to simulate the handsfree effect.
"When the conversation using the handsfree was simple, the effects were comparable to a BAC level of 0.04 g/l, which is below the legal limit of 0.5 g/l in countries like Spain and Australia. However, when more attention was required, their alcohol level analogue shot up to 0.7 g/l, which is above the legal limit in both countries yet below in other countries, like the USA or the UK where up to 0.8 g/l is allowed. When answering text messages, the rate stood at 1 g/l, which is illegal in any of all of these countries," said Sumie Leung Shuk Man, co-author of the study published in the Traffic Injury Prevention.
Sobering, isn't it?