How Effective Are Texting Bans? IDK n IDC (part 3)

Posted on behalf of The Bell Law Firm, PLLC on Dec 30, 2010 in Car Accidents

Darn those kids, anyway. Of all drivers, drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 are the most likely to text while driving. In states with texting bans, 45 percent of this age group reported texting anyway. In states without texting bans, 48 percent of drivers reported texting while driving. West Virginia has a texting ban in place, but only for drivers under 18 -- not the prime offenders.

Changing behavior is always hard. It generally takes about 30 days to break a bad habit, so you'd think that increased enforcement of a texting ban over a period of months would encourage people to quit texting while driving. But is texting a habit? Or is it a culture?

The current generation -- the generation that includes the 18- to 24-year-old texters -- has been dubbed the Facebook Generation. This generation grew up surrounded by rapidly changing and increasingly sophisticated technology. They have mastered instant communication and social networking. Their primary form of communication is electronic. Sociologists have even suggested that this generation will opt to telecommute instead of sitting in a cube farm at corporate headquarters.

Texting, then, is what they do. When faced with a ban, they text anyway. And the researchers discussed in our last two posts suggest that more accidents occur because drivers are trying to hide their texting from the prying eyes of law enforcement.

Perhaps the best approach, then, is not to ban texting but to regulate how it's done. A University of Glasgow study found that the likelihood of having an accident decreased significantly when drivers moved their phones up, when they switched from "heads-down" to "heads-up" displays. It makes perfect sense: Heads-down, drivers' eyes are off the road almost completely and for longer periods; heads-up, drivers can multi-task.

When you consider that 1.6 trillion text messages were sent in 2009 -- a 60 percent increase over 2008 -- it's clear that it's not just a fad. Texting while driving poses a real threat to public safety. distracted driving claimed almost 5,500 lives and resulted in 500,000 people injured in the U.S. during 2009. In Charleston, distracted driving has contributed to 120 accidents in 2010.

Resources:

Insurance Journal "Study: Texting Bans Don't Reduce Crashes" 12/17/10

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website

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