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Argument made that texting ban might not reduce car accidents in Phoenix or traffic crashes elsewhere in Arizona – but a new law is still needed

A new report by the Highway Loss Data Institute questions the effectiveness of banning motorists form text messaging while driving. In fact, the study found that the accident rate actually increased in three of four states examined where such bans exist.

As we previously reported on our Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, Arizona is under increasing pressure to enact a distracted driving law but remains one of 20 states where texting and driving is legal. Advocates of the ban contend it would reduce the number of car accidents in Phoenix and throughout Arizona that result each year form distracted driving.The HLDI study looked at four states with the bans and four states without. It found three of the states that have bans in place actually witnessed an increased in the accident rate.

“Texting bans haven’t reduced crashes at all … texting bans might even increase the risk of texting for drivers who continue to do so despite the laws,” says Adrian Lund, president of both HLDI and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

As the Washington Post reports, speeding laws have been in place for nearly 150 years, but speeders still speed.

This study suggests texters may still text.

“Clearly drivers did respond to the bans somehow, and what they might have been doing was moving their phones down and out of sight when they texted, in recognition that what they were doing was illegal,” Lund said. “This could exacerbate the risk of texting by taking drivers’ eyes further from the road and for a longer time.”

Meanwhile, the popularity of texting continues to skyrocket, growing by 60 percent last year to 1.6 trillion text messages, compared to the 1 trillion messages sent in 2008.

In my opinion, the argument set forth by HLDI and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does not add up. The studies argue that accident rates went up in three states where a texting ban is in place. There could be 100 reasons for an increase in accidents in those states. For example there could be more drivers on the road or bad weather that year.

If the accident rate goes up in a particular state, should the texting law be repealed? And if we were to repeal that law, could the same argument be made for speeding? How about drunk driving?

Sometimes accident rates go up and down, but that does not mean dangerous behavior should be made legal. Texting while driving is hazardous and can cause accidents, the same way speeding is dangerous.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continues to push texting bans as a primary tool in the fight against distracted driving. The federal government blames distracted driving for nearly 5,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries each year in the United States.

If you have been injured in a traffic accident, contact the Phoenix accident attorneys at Abels & Annes for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (602) 819-5191 today.

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