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Bans On Texting While Driving May Increase Crashes

Driving-texting-teenI am totally against texting while driving but this latest study scares the hell out of me. It turns out that those driving while texting bans may be accomplishing the opposite of what they were intended for. The latest study comes from the Highway Loss Data Institute which analyzed insurance claims in four states along with comparing crash numbers before and after they passed anti-texting bans.

In those states, Washington, Minnesota, California, and Louisiana they got some shocking results especially when compared to nearby states that did not have texting bans. In all four states accidents increased with drivers 25 and younger.

The researchers have a simple explanation as to why this may be the case. To avoid detection teens are holding their phones lower which causes even more distraction… Scary right? What do you think? Can you think of a better solution?

18 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. It would be difficult to prove that the increase in crashes are actually related to the texting ban. I would think that more likely scenario is that despite the bans, more people are texting while driving. Also, and perhaps more importantly, because law enforcement is more aware of the issue, crashes are being investigated with more attention to possible distracted driving. 4 yrs ago if someone crashed, it wasn’t likely that the blame would be placed on the driver texting — even if a cell phone was found in the vehicle. Now that many states have a law in place and officers are able to issue a citation for it, there will naturally be an increase in reported cases. I totally disagree with the implication that the ban on texting is causing more crashes. I find making that correlation is irresponsible at this point, until more data is gathered.

    • Well put

    • Agree 100% with izgoi

    • Wouldn’t it be just as hard (if not harder) to prove that more people are texting while driving after the ban? Since nobody got a ticket prior to the ban, how do you isolate anything?

      The point that if someone was to text with the phone lower on the steering while (or near their lap) rather than above the steering while reducing their visibility is valid, regardless of if someone can prove that this ban was the cause of the increased report rate or not. You no longer have any peripheral vision for the windshield at all and you have to look up and down, which takes longer.

  2. Well the teens are morons then. This shows that technology has got us so much addicted that, they have to have a phone even when they are freaking driving! Ban on texting is great! And it should be that way… Instead…the idiotic teens should know that having those gadgets 24/7 with you doesn’t seem to do any good. Get a life!

  3. I totally agree that they cannot directly prove causation but I found it interesting that this is the second study that has found similar results in a state that passed such a law. Personally I think it is because a texting while driving law is very hard to enforce unless they have some technical way to prove it.

  4. I can’t say I’m surprised IF in fact there is a real link.

    You can’t legislate responsibility. And trying to like this just pisses off those you were targeting and unsuprisingly they replace that legislated behavior with even WORSE.

  5. Business people need to ‘hit the ball over the net’. Teens consider it rude not to reply immediately to texts. Home schedules would grind to a halt without immediate communication. We are conditioned to pursue this level of efficiency but we are all supposed cease this behavior once we sit in our respective 5,000 pound pieces of steel and glass. Anyone can win an argument in a forum like this by saying “Just put the phone away” – but we can see its just not happening.

    I just read that 72% of teens text daily – many text more 3000 times a month. New college students no longer have email addresses! They use texting and Facebook – even with their professors. This text and drive issue is in its infancy and its not going away.

    I decided to do something about it after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user (especially teens) I built a tool called OTTER that is a simple app for smartphones. I think if we can empower the individual then change will come to our highways now and not just our laws.

    Erik Wood, owner
    OTTER app

    PS: Our app will be out on Blackberry in about a week!

  6. I got a solution but nobody will like it and it will never fly.
    Just publicly flog anybody caught texting while driving. Reposess their car. And post a video of them getting flogged on youtube… It just needs to get the same stigma as driving drunk.

  7. A bit extreme and southeast asian of you Ronen! 😉

    Take away license of ANYONE caught texting and driving. 30 days first offense, 60, 90, etc. People need to learn they don’t have a RIGHT to drive a car, its a privilege. Abuse that privilege and lose it.

    • I was thinking more along the lines of Singapore’s caning laws. I usually am one to say live and let live but I walk the streets of manhattan where these drivers are talking and texting away. Had somebody almost hit me a few weeks back because they were on the phone!

  8. It would be nice if more (affordable) cars came with voice activated hands-free systems that would be able to read and write text/email messages without you having to take your eyes off of the road. I know you still couldn’t force the person to actually pair their phone with the system/stop physically typing the messages, but you’d have to think it would cut down on the problem. But then again, I suppose more phones would have to include the Bluetooth profiles necessary to allow this to happen. Oh well, it was a nice thought anyway.

  9. Maybe PapiPabs, but I doubt it. Studies have shown it is just a mentally distracting to talk on the phone via Bluetooth as it is to hold the phone to your face/ear and chat. It’s not the method, its the simple fact that people let themselves get distracted from the task at hand. Texting, phone calls, email, makeup, shaving, jamming to the music, yelling at Rush, whatever, they all take mental energy that SHOULD be devoted to driving. It could be argued that the more technology (like hands free, lane drift systems, cruise control, nav systems, collision avoidance systems, automatic braking systems, etc) we put it cars, the less likely the driver is to pay attention to driving.

  10. Good point. Even though the hands are on the wheel and the eyes are on the road, if the brain is elsewhere it’s still not much better. I suppose the same could be said for having a conversation with passengers in the car. Maybe we need cars that drive themselves! 🙂

  11. The penalty for Texting while driving should be SEVERE, the current penalties in California are simply the cost of doing business to many, hardly a slap on the wrist, if you get caught a $1000.00 first offence AND loss of your driving privelage for 90 days, A second offence would be more severe including Jail Time for continued ofenses, make the punishment hurt for these incredibly stupid people.

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