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UC San Diego, CHP Team Up To Help Drivers Stop Texting

Above: This driving simulation is part of the one-hour training classes offered by UC San Diego and the CHP helps point out the risks of texting while driving.

Aired 12/4/13 on KPBS News.

UC San Diego researchers are hoping an hour's worth of instruction helps keep a driver's eyes on the road.

Typing a quick text while driving might not seem like much, but it's enough to keep a driver's eyes off the road for four to five seconds, according to Linda Hill, a UC San Diego professor of preventative medicine.

She is working with California Highway Patrol officers and San Diego businesses to get drivers dialed in to the dangers of driving while their attention is elsewhere. The school is offering one-hour training classes that engage drivers and point out the risks.

"We're seeing an increase in the number of crashes that are due to distraction and an increase in the number of injuries,” Hill said. "Between 3,000 and 4,000 deaths a year can be specifically linked to distraction.”

Hill knows this fact because investigators will look at phones after a fatal traffic accident and see driver was sending or receiving a text at the same time of the crash.

Even talking on a hands-free device raises the normal risk of an accident two to three times, according to Hill.

Texting while driving pushes up the risk significantly higher, Hill said.

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