New Study: Car Accident ER Visits Decline in States That Ban Texting While Driving

States that prohibit motorists from text messaging while driving saw a 4% average reduction in the number of ER visits arising from auto accidents, according to a new study recently published in the American Journal of Public Health.

According to the study, researchers evaluated data from Emergency Departments in 16 different states covering admissions between 2007 and 2014. Here are some of their findings:

  • During the 8-year period reviewed by researchers, states which had laws prohibiting drivers from texting behind the wheel saw a roughly 4% average decline in ER visits, regardless of the type of law in place. That’s equal to about 1,630 ER visits each year.
  • States with texting bans that were primary laws, meaning law enforcement officers can pull drivers over solely for texting behind the wheel (without having to first identify another traffic violation) saw an 8% average reduction in auto accident injuries requiring treatment in the ER.
  • Texting bans proved effective in reducing auto accident injury numbers across all driver age groups, including older drivers 65 and above who aren’t typically known for texting at the wheel.

The results of the recent analysis are being hailed by many safety advocates and lawmakers as strong supporting evidence of the efficacy of texting bans. Many studies previously conducted on the topic focused on the legislative impact texting bans have on fatalities, though many experts state injuries are far more common. Researchers also noted limitations to the study’s findings, including the fact that not all states were included, and that it did not measure how well specific laws are implemented and enforced in each state.

As they note, these laws can be crucial public health interventions that save lives and prevent injuries. However, given the sheer pervasiveness of texting and distracted driving, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) again included driver distraction and cell phone use among its annual “Most Wanted” list of national transportation safety improvements this year.

The Distracted Driver Problem

Data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows over 390,000 people were injured in 2016 as a result of driver distraction. An estimated 3,500 were killed.

As the study shows, there are benefits to laws we have in place. However, their efficacy depends greatly on what those laws look like, how well they’re enforced, and how (often) they’re followed by the public. One striking finding suggests that states without primary bans against texting should consider updating their secondary laws to primary laws, which would enable law enforcement officers to pull over and cite drivers simply for texting.

Another matter to consider is how states and the federal government educate the public about distracted driving dangers. In its 2019 “Most Wanted” list, the NTSB calls on states to focus on public education and outreach efforts to increase awareness about the profound dangers of texting and driving while distracted. Some safety advocates go one step further by encouraging tech innovations that bar some cell functionality while a vehicle is in motion. This more invasive approach is already used by many parents who want to ensure their teen and young adult children, the most likely to text behind the wheel, don’t have the option to do so.

Injured by a Distracted Motorist? Trust Proven Cleveland Accident Attorneys

These types of efforts can certainly help put a dent in exceedingly high numbers of auto accidents, injuries and deaths, but negligent motorists who choose to disobey the law and act negligently will always prove to be dangers to innocent individuals around them. When such negligent people or entities cause harm, victims have a right to seek compensation for their damages by pursuing civil personal injury claims.

At Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP, our nationally recognized Personal Injury Trial Lawyers have extensive experience protecting the rights of victims injured in all types of motor vehicle accidents – from those involving commercial trucks and buses to collisions caused by drunk, distracted, and texting motorists. If you have questions about your rights and legal options, call (216) 600-0114 to speak with an attorney, or contact us online.

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