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Do Texting Bans Work As Advertised?

Twenty-four states currently ban texting while driving. An additional seven states ban the practice for young drivers. These texting bans come in two varieties: primary bans and secondary bans. Primary bans allow law enforcement officials to stop and cite drivers solely for texting behind the wheel. Secondary bans mean that police officers can cite drivers for texting only after stopping them for a different reason. Most of the bans have been enacted in the past decade. Early research has shown that the bans work, depending on the level of implementation.

Texting is not a safe activity for someone who is supposed to be driving. As texting has grown in popularity, particularly among younger drivers, safety experts have looked for ways to curb the behavior. Texting bans have become a popular solution.

Recent research examined data gathered over an 11-year period from the lower 48 states. The study found that, by banning texting, teen traffic deaths could be reduced by as much as 11 percent. The best results came from states with primary enforcement of the law. Any type of texting ban was found to reduce fatal car and truck accidents by 2.3 percent, but the best results all came from states that allowed officers to stop and cite drivers solely for texting.

Even more effective than texting bans were bans on all use of handheld devices. Those bans were the most effective at reducing deadly accidents in the 22-64 age group. Thirteen states have passed such bans and more are considering similar measures.

Source: The Washington Post, "Texting bans work: They cut teen traffic deaths by 11 percent, study finds" by Niraj Chokshi, 1 August 2014

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