A new study from the Highway Loss Data Institute, an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, has concluded laws banning texting while driving do not decrease crashes, but may actually increase them. The study is based on comparing claims filed in four states before and after a texting ban.
The states included in the study were California, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Washington.
Adrian Lund, president of both HLDI and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said "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.”
Crashes involving young motorists under the age of 25 in the four states increased most. The largest crash increase of all four states was California which saw a 12 percent rise among young drivers.
"Neither texting bans nor bans on hand-held phone use have reduced crash risk," Lund says.
Young drivers were the largest group to disregard texting bans, usually hiding the device from view of authorities, creating even larger risks. Granted texting it is still not safe to do while driving.
"But this doesn't explain why crashes increased after texting bans," Lund points out. "If drivers were disregarding the bans, then the crash patterns should have remained steady. 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."
These texting bans question policy maker’s motives. Are they truly enacted to increase driver safety, or as a revenue source for ailing state economies? With the federal government cracking down on distracted driving and technology in cars that aid in texting and constant communication connectivity, drivers will continue to text no matter what laws are put in place.
Lund also said, "They're [policy makers] 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."