It doesn't make sense. The numbers seem to be backwards but it really is true. State laws banning texting and driving are actually increasing the number of texting related accidents!
By now, everyone should know how dangerous it is to text while driving. States have certainly figured it out and most have passed laws to make it illegal to text while driving. So why is it that the number of accidents is on the rise?
There are two major factors in the increased accidents, but first let's look at the findings from the Highway Loss Data Institute:
*"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," says Adrian Lund, president of both HLDI and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Month-to-month fluctuations in the rates of collision claims in HLDI's 4 study states with texting bans for all drivers didn't change much from before to after the bans were enacted. Nor did the patterns differ much from those in nearby states that didn't ban texting for all drivers during the study period. To the extent that the crash patterns did change in the study states, they went up, not down, after the bans took effect. Increases varied from 1 percent more crashes in Washington to about 9 percent more in Minnesota (the result in Washington isn't statistically significant).
Young motorists are more likely than older people to text while driving. In all 4 of the study states, crashes increased among drivers younger than 25 after the all-driver bans took effect. In California, Louisiana, and Washington, the increases for young drivers were greater than for drivers 25 and older. The largest crash increase of all (12 percent) following enactment of a texting ban was among young drivers in California."
Two Major Factors Increasing Accidents:
- Texting is on the rise! The number of people texting, and texting while driving, has risen tremendously over the past few years. Texting has become the preferred method of communication for most Americans and the number of texts sent per month numbers in the trillions! Too many drivers view giving up texting while driving as giving up their main source of keeping in touch and communicating with friends and family so they ignore the no texting laws.
- Phones are hidden to avoid fines! In states that have banned texting while driving, people are keeping their phones out of site to avoid being ticketed and fined. They are NOT texting less, they are just keeping their phones low (below the steering wheel or on their lap) so it is not seen by others. This makes texting and driving that much more dangerous because the drivers' eyes are off the road for an even longer amount of time!
While state bans are a good start to slowing (and eventually stopping) the number of texting related accidents, what is truly needed is a change in behavior. Laws and bans are designed to encourage the right behavior but drivers' attitude and behavior has not changed yet.
Until drivers put away their phones when they get into their cars and make the committment to be text free while driving, texting and driving accidents, injuries and deaths will continue to rise.
*Data from: http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr092810.html