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Study links texting-while-driving bans to reduction in emergency room visits

Many things can have impacts on accident and injury likelihood out on the roads. This includes what traffic safety rules a state has. One class of traffic safety laws that many states have been adding in recent years are rules against distracted driving.

For example, nearly all states now prohibit texting while driving. A recent study looked at the safety impacts of such bans.

The study was by researchers at Texas A&M School of Public Health. The research compared traffic-accident-related emergency room visit statistics of 16 states to those of a control state that lacked a texting-while-driving ban.

The study found that texting bans were associated with significant decreases in motor-vehicle-accident-related emergency room visits. This was the case for bans:

  • With primary enforcement (meaning police can pull drivers over directly for it)
  • With secondary enforcement (meaning police can only issue a ticket if they pull a driver over for something else)
  • That covered novice drivers
  • That covered all of a state's drivers

Overall, the study found laws prohibiting texting while driving to be linked to an 8 percent drop in car-crash-connected emergency room visits.

In 2017, Texas joined the large majority of states that prohibit texting while driving. It is also among the large majority of states with primary enforcement of such a ban. What impacts do you think these laws have had out on the roads in Texas?

Now, some states have gone farther than just prohibiting texting while driving. For example, some have a full ban on using a handheld phone when behind the wheel. Texas as a whole does not have such a law, though some cities in the state have opted to implement a cellphone ban for drivers. Do you think the state as a whole should have such a ban? Do you think it would make Texas' roads a safer place?

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