Mike Stevens | Feb 19, 2010

NEW RESEARCH by insurer NRMA has shown that motorists prone to 'texting' at the wheel take their eyes off the road for an average of 1.4 seconds at a time. At 60km/h, a vehicle will cover around 22 metres in that time.

Frighteningly, NRMA tests revealed that participating drivers looked at their phone an average of 38 times while composing a one-sentence message, driving at 60km/h.

NRMA Insurance spokesperson Robert McDonald said the results were a confronting insight into the dangers of sending and receiving text messages while driving.

“We clearly have an appetite for mobile phones and the convenience of immediate communication,” Mr McDonald said.

“But we need to resist the urge of sending or reading a text message while at the wheel. It’s not only dangerous for the driver, but also for everyone else in their car or on the road around them.”

Mr McDonald said that while the tests focused specifically on texting, it is important for motorists to acknowledge the danger in any activity that takes attention away from the road.

In most Australian states, using a mobile phone while driving carries a fine of over $200 and a loss of three demerit points.

A recent Telstra study found that almost a third of Australian motorists are reading and sending SMS messages while driving. The results showed that 17 to 24 year olds are the second most likely to break the law by using their handset when driving.

An overnight blitz by NSW Police late last year saw over 1000 motorists caught talking or texting while driving.

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