Texting and driving has been the subject of many a public service announcement over the past 5 years or so. In fact, it is a message that has become just as widespread as “don’t drink and drive”. However, unfortunately, despite all of the warnings, texting while driving is still something many of us are guilty of. From teenagers to senior citizens, from business professionals to celebrities (like Jenny McCarthy), just about everyone has, at one point or another, texted while behind the wheel. We know the danger yet it seems we just can’t resist picking the phone up while driving. Perhaps the results of a new study will provide some added motivation.
Research from the American Journal of Public Health reveals that traffic fatalities decreased by 3% in states that allow police officers to pull over texting drivers, and in states that focus on stopping texting among younger drivers, traffic deaths between 15- and 21-year-olds fell by 11% (Aho, 2014). Basically, according to this study, one of the easiest solutions to stopping texting and driving (making it illegal) does indeed work.
Texting while driving takes a driver’s eyes off of the road for approximately 4.6 seconds. That’s a pretty long time. The next time you’re a passenger in a car, close your eyes and count to 4…see how fast the scenery and the cars around you change. Imagine if you had been driving.
Despite bans, texting while driving is still fairly common so changing cultural attitudes is important; however, adopting anti-texting laws is proving to be a good starting point. At least accoring to this recent study.
Other studies in previous years have yielded mixed results. For instance, a study in 2010 found that bans on texting and driving led to a small increase in collision claims in 4 different states (Aho, 2014). This increase
was attributed to the fact that drivers were even more distracted trying to conceal their phones and text while driving. Another study from 2013 concluded “for single-vehicle, single-occupant fatalities, laws seem to reduce risk for several months before drivers adjust,” (Aho,2014). This means that once residents get used to the law and potentially find that they aren’t getting busted every time they whip out their phone behind the wheel they stop worrying about it so much and thus stop obeying.
Regardless of what studies say, bans on texting and driving are popular. Currently, there are 44 states that have laws against texting and driving; to provide some comparison, only 33 states allow police officers to pull
drivers over for not buckling up (Aho, 2014). New York is one of the states that prohibit the usage of a hand-held cell phone (including texting) while driving unless the driver is contacting emergency personnel.