Over the last couple of years laws banning texting while driving have been all the rage, pushed by high-profile celebrity campaigns from people like Oprah Winfrey. But as is the case with most fad legislation, texting while driving doesn’t actually seem to be working. In three out of four states that have passed texting while driving bans the number of traffic accidents has actually gone up.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that 3 of every 4 states that have enacted a ban on texting while driving have seen crashes actually go up rather than down.
It’s hard to pin down exactly why this is the case, but experts believe it is a result of people trying to avoid getting caught in states with stiff penalties. Folks trying to keep their phones out of view will often hold the phone much lower, below the wheel perhaps, in order to keep it out of view. That means the driver’s eyes are looking down and away from the road.
I’m not sure that I buy that the increase in traffic accidents is the result of people trying to avoid being seen texting while driving, mostly because despite the hype that has surrounded this issue a minuscule number of traffic accidents are caused by texting. According to the NHTSA, less than 1% of fatal crashes in the US are attributable to texting while driving.
That’s hardly the epidemic texting and driving has been made out to be. Which is why laws targeting texting while driving are silly. Not only is texting while driving not that big of a problem (remember, even as the number of gadgets in our cars has risen national accident rates have declined significantly), but reckless driving is already illegal.
You can already be pulled over if you’re seen to be driving dangerously.
Texting while driving bans are a waste of time that, at best, will have no real impact on driving safety.