Texting Bans Fall Flat

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - 8:49am

New study says banning texting behind the wheel doesn't prevent accidents.

A new report from the Highway Loss Data Institute shows states that ban texting and driving may not be be any safer.

In three out of four states studied the ban had the opposite effect.

"When we compare what's going on in the four study states that ban texting to their surrounding neighbor states we do see collision claim frequencies going up after the ban," says the Institute's Senior Vice President Kim Hazelbaker.

Some say catching someone in the act may make it too hard to enforce, or perhaps drivers are getting dangerously good at hiding it.

"They may in fact be surreptitiously texting, which means they're putting the device lower in the cab which makes it even more difficult to see," Hazelbaker theorizes.

Transportation officials say that report is flawed, pointing out the bans are still new and require solid laws, good advertising and police enforcement to build success.

"The institute study didn't take that into account," says National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland. "They picked states without those elements. You can't say whether laws are effective until you have those pieces."

In fact, he says they've had great reduction in phone use with those elements in cities like Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York.

Still, texting-while-driving tests leave little doubt for anyone that texting can prove deadly,
so it isn't be the dangers of texting and driving in dispute, just what to do about it.

There is also a fear among some that all the talk about cell phone use may take attention away from other kinds of deadly distractions like eating or turning around to talk to your kids.

Experts say the safest thing you can do is keep both hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road and your focus on driving.

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