Tony O'Kane | Jul 29, 2009

A STUDY by the US-based Virginia Tech Transportation Insitute has found that texting on a mobile phone while driving increased the risk of a crash 23-fold.

The study also found that dialling another phone raised the risk of a crash 2.8 times, while reaching for an object within the cabin (such as a phone or music player) increased the likelihood off a collision by 1.4 times.

The Virginia Tech study analysed footage obtained from participants vehicles and recorded the results of potentially distracting behaviour. Both truck drivers and passenger car drivers were observed under real-world driving conditions.

phone_text-driving_021However, the heightened crash risk figure for texting obtained by the study applies only to truck drivers, with no data collected for texting while driving a car.

Given the more visually-distracting nature of texting, though, it's easy to see why sending a text message while trying to handle a vehicle poses more of a risk than simply talking on a phone.

According to figures published by the Australian Traffic Safety Bureau (ATSB) early last year, around 43 percent of motorists on Australia's roads answered a call while driving, 36 percent made a phone call, 36 percent read a text message and 18 percent wrote a text message.

In Australia it is currently illegal for a driver to use a handheld mobile phone unless their vehicle is parked and the engine switched off.

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