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Temple University Study on Distracted Driving

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Temple University LogoA new study led by Temple University and published in this month’s American Journal of Preventive Medicine has found a growing disparity between the evidence on distracted driving and the legal measures being passed to address the problem. Since mobile-device distractions account for more than 300,000 car accidents every year, it is hardly surprising that many states are trying to legislate solutions.

Renee Cree writes the following on the Temple University website:

The researchers, including Scott Burris and Evan Anderson of the Beasley School of Law, analyzed distracted driving laws passed between January 1992 and November 2010, and found that laws varied from state to state based on type of mobile communication device (cell phones, laptops, tablet computers), categories of drivers (by age or by driving permit type), and types or locations of MCD use. Enforcement and penalties also varied from state to state.

According to Temple professor of public health Jennifer Ibrahim — the lead author of the study — via

‘We know that distracted driving is dangerous, yet despite the diffusion of distracted driving laws, there is evidence that driver use of mobile devices is increasing…Our study is the first step toward understanding which laws really do reduce distracted driving, and thus can reduce related crashes and associated injuries and fatalities.’

There is a profusion of laws related to distracted driving in this country. In some places, distinctions are made based on device type (i.e. tablet, laptop, handset), while in others, restrictions are based on age. Some laws are based on license type or location of use. All in all, it is quite a patchwork, and that is before you take into account that penalties vary just as wildly.

TG Daily reports why researchers think this can be a useful thing:

However, says Ibrahim, from a research standpoint, the variation is helpful — it means it’s possible to compare legislation from state to state to identify for future research which restrictions are the most effective.

More data is always a good thing. Hopefully the results of this study will help us take a few steps towards eliminating distracted driving.

Image of the Temple University logo, used under Fair Use: Reporting.


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