Texting ban doesn’t reduce road crashes, study finds
Bans on texting while driving fail to reduce crash rates because motorists ignore the rules, according to a study by the Highway Loss Data Institute, a group funded by the insurance industry.
Crashes increased in three of four states it surveyed where driver texting was banned, according to the group’s statement released Tuesday. The study focused on collision claims in the states before and after they enacted bans.
The Highway Loss Data Institute study covered California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington. Adrian Lund, president of the Highway Loss Data Institute and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said the texting bans, enacted in 2008 and 2009, may worsen the problem as drivers moved their phones out of sight to avoid detection, shifting their eyes farther from the road.
Young drivers are more likely to text while driving, and collision rates among drivers younger than 25 rose in the four states. The biggest crash increase in the study was among young drivers in California, where collision claims rose 12% after the bans were enacted.
Laws against cellphone texting have been enacted in 30 states since 2004, and almost half of them this year, the group said.
The Obama administration has called for a federal law outlawing driver texting. More than 5,800 traffic deaths were tied to distracted driving in 2008, according to the Department of Transportation.
“Texting bans haven’t reduced crashes at all,” Lund said in the statement.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the results were misleading. They don’t match up with his agency’s research showing that deadly distracted driving declines when laws are strictly enforced, he said in a statement.
The National Safety Council said the study took place in the four states “when consistent, uniform and effective enforcement was not in place.”