In Three Out Of Four States With Bans On Texting While Driving Accidents Have Gone Up


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.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • jimmypop

    imagine ow bad it would have been if they had not banned them….. that’s what they say, right?

    we need to ban babies, food, radios, makeup………

    • Rob

      Actually, far more accidents are caused by people drinking coffee and soda in their cars then texting.

      Clearly, we need to ban drive-through coffee shops, right?

  • Robert Portly

    If this is not classic bullshit there isn’t any. My sister in law was rammed from behind and her car was totaled by a teenager texting. She was stopped at a traffic light. There is no global warming, and texting while driving has no effect on traffic safety. You can sell a dinger anything. Rush Limbaugh has made millions lying. Good luck Rob.

    • Rob

      You realize that nobody is paying attention to you any more, right?

      • Robert Portly

        Of course. That is why you commented, because you were not paying any attention. Makes sense to me. Just like it is fine to text and drive. Studies have shown it is worse than drinking and driving, but data and research never effect the Republican notion of reality. ” If you believe it, it is true” . Logic just has no bearing on this site. The guy with the biggest gun is right, and the facts he asserts have the most truth. Do you think I don’t understand anything about the Republican mind? You are oppressed by the Republicans, but you make a living scraping by lying for them. It is a depressing thought, but do what you have to.

  • Lianne

    We were driving up main street the other day when we came up behind a car sitting at a green light. We honked, nothing, honked again, nothing, the third time, the driver slowly crawled through the intersection only to stop again. The third time stopping we were able to manuver around her—-and she was texting!

    • Robert Portly

      No problem, ask Rob Port, you must be a Democrat.

  • nimrod

    I know it’s illegal to text and drive, so I always enjoy reconciling my checkbook everytime I drive, because I can still use the calculator on my phone legally.