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.
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.
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