A new study finds that bans on texting while driving reduced crash-related hospitalizations by 7% among all age groups, according to an abstract of the study, which appears in the May issue of The American Journal of Public Health. Because of this, the study’s authors, Alva O. Ferdinand, Nir Menachemi, Justin L. Blackburn, Bisakha Sen, Leonard Nelson, and Michael Morrisey, recommend that “States that have not passed strict texting bans should consider doing so.”
The researchers analyzed data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample from 19 states from the years 2003 and 2010, writes Kim Krisberg for Science Blogs. In addition, they compared data on crash-related hospitalizations in states after they had implemented bans on texting while driving with data on states with no such bans, Krisberg writes.
The researchers noted that 416,000 of the more than 2.3 million U.S. residents who sought medical care after a motor vehicle crash in 2009 reported that the crashes involved a distracted driver. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distraction as activities that divert a driver’s attention away from the task of driving, such as cell phones, navigation systems or talking with passengers.
Although there has been research that looked at the relationships between bans on texting while driving and fatal car accidents, and between the bans and insurance claims, this may be the first study on the impact of such bans on texting on crash-related hospitalizations, Krisberg writes. The study finds that although the bans are associated with a “significant” reduction in hospitalizations for people in the 22-to-64 age group, the reductions in texting-related accidents among adolescents and young adults, ages 15 to 21, were only marginal, Krisberg reports.
In Colorado, the law bans texting while driving by all drivers, no matter what their age, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). In addition, CDOT writes, texting and/or talking while driving is illegal for drivers under 18. There are at least 50 people killed in Colorado annually because of distracted driving, CDOT reports. Across the United States in 2012, there were 3,328 people killed, and 421,000 people injured as a resulted of texting-while-driving accidents. When a driver engages with a cell phone, he or she is three times more likely to have a crash, CDOT writes. When a driver is texting, his or her eyes are diverted from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour — blindfolded.