Texting While Driving Ban Positively Correlated With Fewer Car Crash ER Visits
Are texting-while-driving bans effective in curbing the number of car crashes caused by distracted drivers? A new study strongly suggests that this may indeed be the case.
Distracted driving is deadly. On average, 9 people on American roads die each day in crashes caused by distracted drivers and more than 1,000 are injured. In 2017, this dangerous habit claimed 3,166 lives out of which 229 were teenagers. While distracted driving encompasses any activity that can take a driver’s attention from driving and off the road – including eating, drinking, talking to the passengers, and even trying to change the song on the radio – texting while driving is especially dangerous.
As noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are three main types of distraction – visual, manual, and cognitive – and texting combines all of them. When a person driving with the speed of 55mph takes their eyes off the road for just 5 seconds – more or less the time it takes to read a short text message – they let the car cover the distance equal to the length of a football field. In addition, a driver distracted by writing or reading a text message will cover 70 feet more than the average sober driver and focused driver before hitting the brake. In fact, the reaction time of a distracted driver is much worse than the one of a drunk driver – who will need on average only 4 feet more to hit the brake than the sober driver.
With grim statistics like these, it is no wonder that 48 U.S. states have banned text messaging while driving. In the past, such bans have been the target of frequent criticism with some quoting evidence demonstrating that they may actually be ineffective. Now, however, a new study has shown that texting while driving bans adopted at a state level do, in fact, positively correlate with fewer car crash-related visits to the ER, making a strong case for the universal adoption of such laws.
How Effective Are Texting-While-Driving Bans?
The study was conducted by a team of researchers from the School of Public Health at Texas A&M University and published in March in the American Journal of Public Health. The researchers looked at the available data related to emergency room visits following a car crash from 16 states between 2007 and 2014. The data showed that, on average, there was a 4% decrease in the number of such visits in the states which adopted texting-while-driving bans.
Interestingly, such a downward trend was observed regardless of the type of ban adopted by a state (these laws can be primary, which means that texting is a punishable violation in and of itself, or secondary, where a driver can be sanctioned for texting-while-driving only if they are pulled over for another violation). In addition, the researchers concluded that the positive effect of texting-while-driving laws held across all ages. Members of virtually all age groups in states with a texting-while-driving ban saw fewer car crash-related ER visits after the law’s implementation.
According to the authors of the paper, previous studies had failed to demonstrate the full benefit of texting-while-driving laws because they only focused on the number of fatalities that occurred in crashes caused by drivers distracted by reading or writing text messages. However, non-fatal injuries are a more common and more likely outcome of such crashes.
The authors also admit that their study has certain limitations – for example, the data gathered didn’t cover all 50 states. Still, the researches are confident that the results would be similar across the country.
Texting-While-Driving Laws in New Mexico
While texting-while-driving bans may still be controversial for some, there is no doubt that texting or using a mobile device for any other purpose behind the wheel of a car is dangerous and irresponsible. New Mexico has strict texting-while-driving laws that every driver needs to know and abide by. If you’d like to learn more about these laws, we encourage you to read one of our previous blog articles about this topic that you can find here. In addition, if you have been injured in an accident caused by a driver who was texting, you may also benefit from this article with practical information on how you can recover compensation for your injuries.