The results of a study initiated by the Highway Loss Data Institute indicate that crash rates are not reduced even with the bans on texting because motorists choose to ignore the rules. This group, which is funded by the insurance industry, found out that crash rates rose in three of four states that were surveyed where driver texting was banned.
The group focused on the collision claims in the states before and after bans were imposed. Since 2004, laws that banned texting from mobile phones have been enacted in 30 states. Nearly half of this number was enacted just this year. The US Department of Transportation said that over 5,800 traffic deaths in 2003 were linked to distracted driving.
The Obama administration has called for a federal law prohibiting driver texting. In the statement, Adrian Lund, president of the Highway Loss Data Institute and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said that texting bans failed to reduce crashes. But according to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the results were misleading. LaHood, in his statement, said that the results didn’t coincide with his agency’s own studies that indicate that when laws are implemented strictly, death rates from distracted driving drop.
The National Safety Council also issued its statement. It said that the report’s “narrow findings” do not indicate that all texting bans fail. It also stated that there’s no evidence that state bans on driver texting cause crashes. The council added that the study was done in the four states “when consistent, uniform and effective enforcement was not in place.”
Allstate Corp., the largest publicly traded US home and auto insurer, said that for texting bans to work, laws have to “combine enforcement and public education.“ Joan Walker, vice president of corporate relations for the Northbrook Illinois-based company, said, “Legislation is only the first step.” She explained that laws have to be strongly enforced for there to be any real impact. [via autonews - sub. required]