Study Dismisses Texting Bans’ Effect
Jim LiebeltJim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
- 2010 Oct 05
The suggestion in this study that people who text while driving in states that have banned the behavior might be continuing to text, but just holding their phones lower to avoid being seen, makes sense to me. Lowering the phone, let's say, holding it between one's legs - might result in people taking their eyes off the road MORE than if they held the phone up near the steering wheel to text - where they could see the road. Either way, texting is still distracted driving and dangerous. But, in this case, perhaps the laws banning texting while driving is causing more distracted driving for those who continue to text - and might even result in more crashes...
A new study says that states that have laws banning texting while driving have not reduced automobile accidents.
The report does not dispute the danger of texting while driving. It suggests that banning the practice, as 30 states have done, does not automatically produce safer roads.
"If we're counting on texting bans to reduce crashes from distracted driving, they're not doing that,'' said Adrian Lund, president of the Highway Loss Data Institute, which conducted the study. The institute, along with its sister organization, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, is funded by insurance companies.
The new study is not the first time the research institute has suggested that legislative efforts to combat distracted driving are not affecting crash rates. In January, the institute found virtually no change in crash frequency for states that had enacted bans on handheld phone use.
In the latest study, the institute examined four states that were among the first to ban texting while driving — California, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Washington — and compared insurance claims for collisions in those states before and after the ban, as well as in neighboring states where laws did not change during that time.
In one of the states, the rate of crashes did not change significantly; in the other three, it went up slightly. Lund said there could be multiple explanations for an increase, including the possibility that drivers who continue to text despite a ban might be lowering their hands and taking their eyes off the road in an attempt to text more discreetly, out of view of police. And for those who do give up texting, other distractions may be filling the void.