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Texting While Driving Ban Found to INCREASE Crashes

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A new study by researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute, an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, found that laws designed to prevent drivers from texting while driving actually increase the accident rate.

The findings, released yesterday, follow a previous HLDI study which found that banning hand-held phone use while driving doesn't cut crashes, either.

From the report:

"HLDI researchers calculated rates of collision claims for vehicles up to 9 years old during the months immediately before and after driver texting was banned in California (January 2009), Louisiana (July 2008), Minnesota (August 2008), and Washington (January 2008). Comparable data were collected in nearby states where texting laws weren't substantially changed during the time span of the study. This controlled for possible changes in collision claim rates unrelated to the bans — changes in the number of miles driven due to the economy, seasonal changes in driving patterns, etc."

"'Texting bans haven't reduced crashes at all. In a perverse twist, crashes increased in 3 of the 4 states we studied after bans were enacted. It's an indication that texting bans might even increase the risk of texting for drivers who continue to do so despite the laws,' said Adrian Lund, president of both HLDI and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety."

What in the world is going on?

"If drivers were disregarding the bans, then the crash patterns should have remained steady," Lund said. "So clearly drivers did respond to the bans somehow, and what they might have been doing was moving their phones down and out of sight when they texted, in recognition that what they were doing was illegal. This could exacerbate the risk of texting by taking drivers' eyes further from the road and for a longer time."

Lund pointed out that the data doesn't mean texting while driving is safe. Rather, he noted that legislators went wrong by "focusing on a single manifestation of distracted driving and banning it. This ignores the endless sources of distraction and relies on banning one source or another to solve the whole problem."
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