Tests over six million miles of driving revealed that texting is by far the most distracting in-car activity, followed by reaching for an electronic device, then dialing on a mobile phone.
The research was carried out in the US by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
In fact, any task where the driver's eyes were drawn away from the road where found to hugely increase the risk of crashing.
Texting draws the driver's eyes from the road for 4.6 seconds during a 6 second period of activity, which, according to the research, is the same as driving blind at 55mph along the length of a football pitch.
No separate offence
In the UK, the minimum penalty for using a mobile phone while driving is a £60 fine and three penalty points.
There is currently no separate offence of texting at the wheel.
However, there have been high-profile court cases recently where texting motorists have been jailed after being convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.
Road safety minister Paul Clark said: 'Tough penalties and hard-hitting campaigns have got the message through to the majority of drivers.
'But some are still needlessly risking their own lives and putting others in danger for the sake of a text or a call.'
Dialing Cell Phone
Talking/Listening to Cell Phone
Reaching for electronic device
2.8 times higher than non-distracted driving
1.3 times higher than non-distracted driving
1.4 times higher than non-distracted driving