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Study: Texting bans don't cut down the number of crashes

July 23, 2011

A study released in September 2010 by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) indicated texting-while-driving laws don't decrease the number of crashes.

Texting bans in the four tested states did not produce "a detectable reduction" in crash risk, the study states. The findings mirror a previous study that found handheld cellphone bans did not affect crash risk in four different states.

HLDI, which is part of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, used California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington state in its analysis, which involved information from insurance providers. Those four states are among 30 states and Washington, D.C., that had enacted laws banning motorists from texting as of July 31, 2010.

"Insurance collision loss experience does not indicate a decline in crash risk when texting laws are enacted. Rather, there appears to have been a small increase in claims in the states enacting texting bans, compared to neighboring states," the study stated.

"Partly, this may reflect the difficulty of enforcing texting bans," the study continued.

An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety survey found people reported texting while driving at similar rates regardless of whether their states had bans.

The authors of the HLDI study write the public-safety issue in distracted driving is from the conversations and not the use of the devices themselves.

Mobile-device users in the United States transmitted 2.1 trillion text messages in 2010, according to the Cellular and Telecommunications and Internet Association's website.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that of 5,474 people killed in the United States in 2009 in distracted-driving crashes, 995 of those involved reports of a cellphone. It identified 30- to 39-year-old drivers as the group with the greatest proportion distracted by cellphones in fatal crashes.

— Jennifer Fitch

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