Texting bans may not reduce crash

According to a new report from the Highway Data Loss Institute, banning texting while driving does not reduce the number of car crash.  Even more surprising is the fact that some states saw their crash rate increase since banning texting while driving

Researchers compared the insurance claims in four states (California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington) in the months before and after texting while driving became effective.  In most cases, the number of car crash went up.  Increases varied from 1% more crashes in Washington to nearly 9% more in Minnesota.

“Texting bans haven’t reduced crashes at all. In a perverse twist, crashes increased in 3 of the 4 states we studied after bans were enacted. It’s an indication that texting bans might even increase the risk of texting for drivers who continue to do so despite the laws,” says Adrian Lund, president of both HLDI and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The study seems to confirm that car crashes are up because drivers do not comply with the law.  Young drivers are taking more risks, as 45% of drivers aged between 18 and 24 reported texting while driving in a state where such behavior is illegal.

“But this doesn’t explain why crashes increased after texting bans,” said Lund. “If drivers were disregarding the bans, then the crash patterns should have remained steady. So clearly drivers did respond to the bans somehow, and what they might have been doing was moving their phones down and out of sight when they texted, in recognition that what they were doing was illegal. This could exacerbate the risk of texting by taking drivers’ eyes further from the road and for a longer time.”

To this day, 30 states have banned texting while driving.

Source: Highway Data Loss Institute News Release, September 28, 2010

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