Bans On Texting While Driving Increasing Crashes?
A startling new report from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) released Tuesday, seems to indicate texting while driving laws seem to be having no effect on reducing car crashes.
And, at least according to the HLDI’s analysis of automobile accident insurance claims from four states (none of them Illinois), crashes have ticked up slightly after the texting bans were installed.
“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,” says Adrian Lund, president of both HLDI and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Lund seems to think that lawmakers are drafting laws that concentrate on only one factor causing distracted driving accidents–texting while using a cell phone.
“They’re focusing on a single manifestation of distracted driving and banning it,” says Lund. “This ignores the endless sources of distraction and relies on banning one source or another to solve the whole problem.”
It’s probably no surprise the study also seems to show a more pronounced use of texting while driving among younger drivers and it was with drivers younger than 25 where the increased crashes seem to be happening.
One explanation for the increase in texting related crashes could be just the sheer number of people using this type of communication tool. Another explanation might be the extra effort of trying to hide one’s texting activities from law enforcement while driving could lead to even further distraction and thus increase crashes.
But these counter intuitive findings don’t mean texting while driving is a safe practice according to Lund.
“The point of texting bans is to reduce crashes, and by this essential measure the laws are ineffective,” Lund points out. He cautions that “finding no reduction in crashes, or even a small increase, doesn’t mean it’s safe to text and drive, though. There’s a crash risk associated with doing this. It’s just that bans aren’t reducing this crash risk.”
Chicago passed a ban on driving and texting October, 2008 and Illinois’ law banning texting while driving went into effect January 1st of this year.