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Texting ban reduces teen fatalities according to study

A new study looked at the effect of recent texting bans on driver behavior. It found that a texting ban could reduce teenage fatalities in auto accidents by up to 11 percent.

Each state has a unique texting ban. Oklahoma only bans young drivers from texting behind the wheel. However, it is a primary offense, which means an officer may stop a driver simply for sending a text message.

An effort to put in place a broader ban on texting while driving for all drivers stalled out in the Oklahoma state legislature during the spring. Some states, such as neighboring Texas have yet to ban texting at all.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health study found that states with primary enforcement bans targeted at teens had the most dramatic effect.

Researchers analyzed data from 48 states collected between 2000 to 2010. Having any type of texting law on the books resulted in a 2.3 percent decline in traffic fatalities for all drivers.

Three main finding came out of the study:

  • Primary enforcement is key to lowering traffic deaths
  • Targeted bans toward one group, such as teens are effective
  • Broader bans were best for reducing adult deaths in car accidents

A primary texting ban correlated with three percent fewer traffic deaths in states with these types of bans.

More states have moved to ban texting and 13 have gone even further and banned all use of handheld devices while driving. While there is still no broad texting ban for all drivers in Oklahoma, a text sent before an accident could be a sign that the negligence of another driver caused an accident.

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


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