A new survey for the RAC Foundation has revealed that the reaction times of motorists who text while driving are worse than in those who drink or take drugs before getting behind the wheel.
The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) tested young drivers on their overall driving performance while they wrote, read and ignored text messages.
Using a driving simulator, the TRL also looked at the ability of the 17 to 24-year-olds to safely steer and keep a safe distance from other vehicles.
Reaction times for those engaged in texting deteriorated by 35% - worse than alcohol at the legal limit (12% slower) and driving under the influence of cannabis (21% slower). Steering control and the ability to maintain a safe following distance were also worse.
RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: "The participants in this study were almost unanimous in their view that drink-driving was the most dangerous action on the road.
"Yet this research clearly shows that a motorist who is texting is significantly more impaired than a motorist at the legal limit for alcohol. No responsible motorist would drink and drive.
"We need to ensure that text devotees understand that texting is one of the most hazardous things that can be done while in charge of a motor car."
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