In 30 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, it is illegal to text while driving. Each of those laws was enacted in the hope of reducing accidents caused by distracted driving. But they haven’t worked.
A September study by the Highway Loss Data Institute, a research organization funded by the auto insurance industry, examined accident claim data from four states that ban texting while driving: California, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Washington. In no case did crash rates decline. In three of the four states, crash rates increased slightly.
The report’s authors caution that their findings should not be taken as evidence that texting while driving is not dangerous. Instead, they say the anti-texting laws just aren’t very effective, in part because they are hard to enforce and in part because they may encourage drivers to hide their texting by holding their phones lower, thereby pulling their gaze even further from the road.
“We want to be very, very clear,” Anne Fleming, a spokeswoman for the institute, told ABC News. “Texting while driving or using a cell phone while driving is definitely hazardous. It’s just that laws enacted to reduce this behavior are not reducing crashes.”