Texting while driving bans fail to put a dent in auto accidents

texting drivers

A new study shows that texting while driving laws have had virtually no impact on auto accident statistics. Image: Thinkstock

Texting while driving is prohibited by law in several states. But a new study found no decrease in car crashes in those states after texting-while-driving laws took effect. In some states the number of crashes actually increased. The Department of Transportation, in the midst of an anti-texting while driving campaign, called the results of the study misleading. Some driving safety experts said results will become evident with better enforcement of the law. Others think the law leads to even more hazardous texting practices by drivers trying to avoid detection.

Texting while driving continues to kill

Texting while driving increased auto fatalities by more than 16,000 between 2001 and 2007, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. But ABC News reports that researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute found no reduction in auto accidents after texting while driving laws were enacted. Researchers calculated rates of crashes and insurance claims before and after texting while driving was banned in California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington. In three states, crashes actually showed a slight increase.

Driving ban may encourage more risky texting

Virtually everyone agrees that texting while driving is dangerous, but the study shows that cellphone laws do not equal safer roads. The Christian Science Monitor reports that in all four states in the study, accidents increased among drivers 25 and under– the age group most associated with texting while driving. The researchers suggested that the law compels texting drivers to hold their phones lower to avoid being seen, which significantly increases the level of distraction. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called the study “misleading.” He released a statement saying research showed that distracted driving laws could reduce crashes. But Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said laws focusing on a single aspect of distracted driving ignore the entire scope of distractions and rely on a ban to solve the whole problem.

Technology, not laws, could reduce risk

Law or no law, Americans are going to text while driving. Jared Newman at PC World thinks technology is a better solution than laws that are ignored. He mentions Google Voice for Android that includes text message dictation, and the Dragon Dictation app for Apple’s iPhone. Automobile innovations like MyFord Touch, he writes, let drivers keep their eyes and the road and their hands on the wheel as they use their phones. Instead of passing unenforceable laws, perhaps the government could promote collaboration between automakers and technology companies, as well as increase public awareness that such options are available.

  • Coffield

    I am a motorcycle enthusiast and have not been scared of accidents until we came into this distracted driving epidemic. Now I only take joy rides in the country back roads. I’ve had four friends tell me of their close calls one today said a cell phone user actually clipped his side mirror as they were driving side by side. A few weeks ago, I found a real solution to the problem. People are not going to stop cell phone use while driving. Hovever, most states have laws that require we all change the way we do it. check out http://www.8137746966.net and you will see exactly what technology can do for this problem.

  • Dar

    (continued) These corporations should stop raping the public, and begin to give back when there are life threatening issues being addressed. Products and services that we purchase have become so ridiculously dissected into parts of the greater whole, and charged that way, that the consumer is financially drowning in what use to be included in the basic package or product! Rather than passing unenforceable laws that will only increase the probability of an accident during the inevitable act of texting while driving, lawmakers should start making laws that keep corporations honest. Laws that prohibit corporations from parting out and charging extra for every little necessary item needed to effectively utilize the service for which we pay for in the first place. So, come on! Make technology work for us, and stop an easily resolved problem from happening so often. And, let's do it right and fair for once, and as once was!! I challenge those entities that can make this happen to do the right thing, give back a little of what we give to you, and without charging us to do something that's only a caring and conscionable act.

  • Dar

    I agree with this whole heartedly! Technology to counter technology is the only definitive solution to this deadly problem. However, the end result, unless consumers speak out now, will be application based solutions, and/or signal jammers that will cost an additional fee to users. Most people will simply pay it as it is just another service fee that is not part of their basic service. Although, I know we need a real solution to a real problem, other than another money-maker law that is unenforceable, I just don't think it's right or fair for corporations to take advantage of disasterous issues by making a profit on necessary adjuncts to widely used goods. For example, would we expect to pay a monthly service fee for having a safety on our chosen firearm, or charged an extra fee on your cable or satellite billing to alleviate commercial interruptions that now saturate our programming these days.

  • http://www.adworkz.com/ Franrose

    I don't see anything misleading about this study. Not all drivers, especially those in that age bracket, are going to give up texting while driving that easily. Now, and even more so with the new cellphone laws in place, they are taking driving and texting to a whole new level. They're not just driving and texting anymore; they're driving and texting AND looking over their shoulder for the five-oh.

  • Krystal Kid

    80% percent of all rear end collisions (the most frequent vehicle accident) are caused by driver inattention. I doubt if we'll ever stop the madness so I got one of these from sparebumper.com – to reduce whiplash and protect my family.

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