Opposing Findings in Studies Which Look at Texting and Driving

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A panoply of voices have chimed in on the advisability of a texting and driving ban in the state of Texas.  A new report takes a look at the many sources of division, including opposing studies that have come to some very different conclusions.

The Texas Transportation Institute a few years ago attempted to gauge just how much attention is compromised when an individual is busy texting at the wheel.  Drivers on a closed course were required to press a button whenever they noticed a light on the dash blink on.  If a person was texting, their response time was shown to have been delayed to three or four seconds, double what it would be otherwise.

But the Highway Loss Data Institute looked at crash rates in four states and came to a conclusion that seems to favor not adopting a texting ban.  Louisiana, Minnesota, Washington, and our own California have each passed a measure against texting, but among teenage drivers, crash rates actually went up immediately after passage.  A spokesperson for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety thinks the ban may have caused people to take pains to hide their phones, in essence removing their focus from the road even further.

A member of the Distraction Advocate Network doesn’t buy into that study.  She points to research from the NHTSA which suggests that phone usage does indeed go down as time passes and education and enforcement efforts geared toward the ban are put forth in earnest.