Accident Rates Rise After Texting Ban

Texting while driving has been banned in Louisiana since 2008, making it one of 30 states that currently outlaw the practice. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) accident data shows that more than 6,000 deaths happened in the U.S. as a result of distracted driving in 2008. In July of this year, Louisiana legislators made texting while driving a primary offense. This means that law enforcement officers can stop drivers that they see texting, even if the driver has not broken any other traffic laws. Prior to this law taking effect, police could only stop drivers who were texting if they had committed another traffic violation. The new laws are focused on reducing the number of serious injuries or deaths that result from car or truck accidents caused by distracted drivers. Research is being conducted on accident trends in states with texting bans to determine the effectiveness of the laws. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety examined insurance claims and driving habits in Louisiana, Minnesota, California and Washington, states with texting bans enacted in 2008. Insurance claims in Louisiana were compared to neighboring states which did not ban texting while driving (Arkansas, Texas and Mississippi) to check if accident rates dropped after texting laws went in place. In states with no bans, accident rates remained rather constant. In Louisiana, the results show that in spite of a ban being in place, accident rates actually increased. One of the main reasons for the increase in crash rates is that many drivers have not stopped texting, especially for young drivers. The study determined that 45 percent of drivers aged 18 to 24 are still texting. Inexperienced drivers are especially dangerous if texting while behind the wheel. The NHTSA reports that distracted drivers under the age of 20 have the highest rate of fatal crashes. With stronger laws in place, it is hoped that the number of accidents due to distracted driving will decrease. Many high schools and driver’s education programs have made education on the dangers of texting while driving a major focus. If you have been injured in a car or truck accident because the other driver was texting while behind the wheel, talk to an experienced attorney in your area to discuss your options.