Car Insurance Research Group: Texting Bans Don’t Reduce Crashes

Blonde Woman Text Messaging on Her Cell Phone While Driving.A recent report from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) indicates regulations banning texting while driving did not reduce the number of auto insurance collision claims overall in four states studied. In fact, three of them showed an increase in claims after the laws took effect.

The study focused on California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington. The three states’ rises in crash rates following the bans’ implementations ranged from a 1 percent increase in Washington to about a 9 percent increase in Minnesota.

In releasing its findings, the organization calls into question the way lawmakers focus on the distracted driving problem.

“They’re focusing on a single manifestation of distracted driving and banning it. This ignores the endless sources of distraction and relies on banning one source or another to solve the whole problem,” said Adrian Lund, president of HLDI and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The IIHS says a likely reason for the apparent ineffectiveness of the laws is simply that many drivers are ignoring the bans.

Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Ray LaHood has spoken out against the HLDI’s findings, calling the report “completely misleading” and adding that both HLDI and IIHS have tried to discredit efforts to stop distracted driving in the past year.

“Lives are at stake, and all the reputable research we have says that tough laws, good enforcement and increased public awareness will help put a stop to the deadly epidemic of distracted driving on our roads,” LaHood said.

LaHood cited an enforcement campaign in four cities in the Northeast that reportedly showed that enforcement of the laws in those cities is effective.

Policymakers and safety experts attended the second Distracted Driving Summit, which was hosted by the DOT on Sept. 21. The goal of the meeting was to review the effect of laws against the practice enacted since the first summit and examine new ways to reduce the accident rate.

Along with banning commercial truckers and bus drivers from texting while on the job, President Barack Obama signed an executive order last year that does the same for federal workers.

According to the IIHS, 30 states have banned texting while driving for all motorists. Eleven of those laws were enacted this year. Furthermore, 26 of the laws grant primary enforcement, which means motorists can be pulled over if they are spotted texting while driving.

A new distracted-driving law affecting Massachusetts auto insurance consumers went into effect yesterday. Under the new law, drivers who cause accidents that resulted from negligent cell phone use are subject to an insurance surcharge.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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