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Texting bans reduce traffic fatality rate, says study

| Aug 7, 2014 | Car Accidents

There are two great aspects of the texting while driving law here in Illinois. The first is that, in addition to the ban on texting, the law applies a ban on all cellphone use for all drivers — even though hands-free devices are permitted.

The other great aspect here is that a violation of the law is considered a primary offense, which means that the police can pull a driver over simply for using their cellphone. In some other states, the law applies secondarily, meaning the police need another infraction to occur to pull the driver over for texting or cellphone use.

Just across the border in Missouri, the texting ban is very similar. A violation of the law is a primary offense, and it applies to all drivers. There are just a couple of added wrinkles to the Illinois law that separates the two.

However, there are many states out there that don’t have a texting ban at all. A new study says that such a stagnant stance on texting while driving (and, really, cellphone use while driving) should change, and soon.

The study looked at data from 2000 to 2010 on the “lower 48” states, seeing what kind of correlation there was between texting bans and the traffic fatality rate. What researchers found is that simply having a texting ban correlated to a 2.3 percent decline in the total traffic fatality rate in the state. Researchers also found that targeting subgroups of a population is effective. For example, making a texting ban that applies to teens correlated to an 11 percent decline in the traffic fatalities of that demographic.

Source: Washington Post, “Texting bans work: They cut teen traffic deaths by 11 percent, study finds,” Niraj Chokshi, Aug. 1, 2014

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