Fewer Car Accidents from Distracted Drivers in States with Strict Texting and Driving Bans
In June last year, South Carolina became the 44th state to pass a texting and driving ban. Although the legislation did not include talking on the phone, which can be another form of distracted driving, the law does forbid drivers from using their mobile phones to text, email, or check social media while they operate their vehicle. As of this past winter, the law is in full force in the state.
A recent study investigated car crash statistics in states that have strict texting and driving legislation, versus the handful of remaining states that have “secondary” legislation or no anti-texting and driving laws at all. Researchers examined data from 2003 to 2010, and found that states that instituted strict texting and driving bans had fewer car accident hospitalizations due to distracted driving than other states.
Study leader Alva Ferdinand, an assistant professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, said that she and her team worked to rule out other factors which could explain the decline, including tougher DUI law enforcement, speeding laws, and teen driving restrictions.
Once other factors were ruled out, Ferdinand said, the research team still found a decline in car accidents, which they believe is related directly to “primary” enforcement of anti-texting and driving laws.
Primary enforcement means that police officers can pull drivers over just on suspicion of texting and driving, without any other perceived traffic offense as an excuse.
“Some states have secondary enforcement,” Ferdinand explained. “In those states, law enforcement has to catch you doing something else first — like speeding or running a red light — and then determine that you were texting.”
Jake Nelson, director of traffic safety advocacy for the AAA, said that “the results are probably a conservative estimate of the full impact of texting bans,” because the researchers focused on car accident hospitalizations as their metric.
Many previous studies have linked texting and driving to serious road dangers. In fact, one study concluded that texting and driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. AT&T conducted a survey of drivers and found that many drivers, not just teenagers, practice texting and driving, even though they know the dangers.
Ferdinand said that her study showed that adults are as culpable as teenagers when it comes to texting and driving, and that primary bans on the practice benefit adults even more than they benefit teenagers. Texting and driving bans were linked to a 9% reduction in car accident hospitalizations among drivers 22 years old and older. The team found a decline among younger drivers as well, but it was not statistically significant.
Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the GHSA, made the same point. “It’s actually adults between the ages of 25 and 40 who are the biggest offenders,” he said.
He added that, no matter how good you think you are at “multitasking,” no driver should text and drive.
The Strom Law Firm Helps Victims of Texting and Driving Accidents
If you have been involved in a car accident caused by a distracted driver who was texting and driving, the law is on your side in South Carolina. However, you could face an uphill battle with insurance companies, or you could have been hit by a driver who has no insurance. The South Carolina personal injury attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We offer a free case evaluation to discuss the incident and your injuries, to see how we can help. Contact us today. 803.252.4800