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Texting bans “ineffective” suggests report



A report released by the Highway Loss Data Institute calls into question the effectiveness of newly enacted laws which ban texting while driving. The bans, which are now in place in 30 different states, were specifically introduced to reduce the number of crashes due to distracted driving, particularly among young people.

The Institute, which is funded by insurance companies, looked at claims in four states – California, Washington, Minnesota and Louisiana – before and after texting bans took effect, and compared them with claim patterns in nearby states. If anything, there was a slight increase in claims under collision coverage in the states where texting while driving is now illegal.

The increase in the number of crashes wasn’t confined to one single age group. In particular, crashes among young drivers, who are often blamed for the increase in distracted driving, also rose in all four states. The largest crash increase of all (12 percent) following enactment of a texting ban was among young drivers in California.

Institute president, Adam Lund, speculated that drivers who continue to text in states where there is a ban might now do so more surreptitiously, increasing the risk of an accident even more. Lund said the Institute’s findings on texting were similar to previous research on the impact of cell phone bans, which also failed to reduce the number of crashes.

Research suggests that many drivers, especially younger ones, shrug off these bans. Forty-five percent of 18-24 year-olds admitted texting in states with bans, just a couple of points lower than the 48 percent that text in states where there is no ban. Most respondents blame the lack of enforcement, claiming that the bans aren’t enforced by the police.

The Institutes findings clearly indicate that state-sponsored legislation alone is not enough. Drivers Ed programs will need to put as much emphasis on distracted driving as they do on drunken driving before young drivers start to take note. Plus, technology clearly has a role to play in enforcing the existing bans. Installing parental controls and creating in-car “blackout” zones are just two of the options that are already available.  



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