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By Brandon Goldner on August 5th, 2009

Imagine you’re driving in moderate traffic. Your phone starts buzzing, and you see you have a text message. Not wanting to be rude, you read it and start texting back.

It may not seem like you’re doing anything risky, but you’re actually putting yourself and others in danger. Cell phone use contributes to an estimated 6% of all crashes, and a new study finds that texting raises your risk of crashing much more than previously suspected.

How much more you ask? Twice the risk? Nope. Thrice the risk? Keep going. It turns out that texting while driving, possibly replying to a text about how your friend is ROFL’ing over what happened the night before, raises your risk of accident by 23 times.

Wow. And with 20% of the public admitting to texting while driving in a Nationwide insurance public opinion poll, this is a huge problem that’s made worse by the fact that texting has increased tenfold over the last three years.

So don’t text and drive. And don’t think that just talking on a cell phone is risk-free. According to a 2006 study, using a cell phone while driving can be as dangerous as driving drunk.