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The Impact of Texting Bans on Fatal Accidents

Recent research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health analyzed the impact of texting bans and found that they have been effective. Illinois was one of 24 states to ban texting by drivers of any age during the period analyzed in the study, 2000 to 2010. An additional seven states banned texting by young drivers with provisional licenses. Illinois was also among the states that allowed primary enforcement of the texting ban. That means that police officers here can stop and cite a driver solely for the act of texting behind the wheel. States with secondary enforcement statutes only allow drivers to be cited for texting after they have been stopped for some other offense.

The UAB study found that states with a texting ban allowing for primary enforcement saw a reduction in traffic deaths of roughly three percent. Texting bans that targeted young drivers and allowed for primary enforcement saw a reduction in teen driving fatalities of 11 percent. States that banned all handheld cell phone use saw the largest reduction in fatal traffic accidents among drivers ages 22 to 64. The author of the study said that the texting bans saved 19 deaths per year in the states with primary enforcement bans covering drivers of all ages.

Texting bans continued to grow in popularity following the period covered in the study. As of June 2014, 44 states have enacted texting bans on drivers of all ages. Thirteen ban the use of handheld cell phones by drivers.

Source: The Washington Post, "Texting bans work: They cut teen traffic deaths by 11 percent, study finds," by Niraj Chokshi, 1 August 2014

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