New York's ban on texting while driving went into effect last November, with drivers facing up to a $150 fine for what is considered a secondary offense. However, that hasn't stopped drivers from hitting up their phones behind the wheel, as numerous accidents have shown. Now, the Highway Loss Data Institute is saying texting bans may be making texting-related accidents increase.
After comparing rates of collision insurance claims in California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington before and after their bans were enacted, the Institute found that crash rates rose in three of the states. Pat's Papers explains it's "because instead of waiting until they are off the road to compose a message, people instead just lower their phones to avoid police scrutiny. Unfortunately, their eyes tend to follow suit."
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, "Between 2005 and 2008, distracted driving-related fatalities jumped from 10% to 16% of all traffic fatalities. In 2009, for the first time in four years, distracted driving fatalities stopped rising, remaining at 16%." However, those numbers could be due to a plateau in first-time cell phone users, not necessarily the success of cell phone bans. Adrian Lund of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the findings "call into question the way policymakers are trying to address the problem of distracted-driving crashes," and says they should look to ban all forms of distracted driving, not just those that involve cell phones. Even though they just said the bans may be making the crashes worse. Anyone got another option?
USA Today has a compilation of some other methods of distracted driving, including a man who was driving with his knees while reading a textbook, and a woman whose rear window view was blocked by 15 cats. And they weren't even wearing seatbelts!