Most drivers have felt the temptation. You’re driving, and your cellphone rings, or you hear that distinctive ding indicating you’ve just received a text. Your mind might rationalize that it will “only take a few seconds” to answer that call, or read or answer that text. Doing so, however, is known as distracted driving, and is illegal in California. As you resist the temptation to pick up your phone, you may have found yourself wondering, just how effective are distracted driving laws?
According to Distraction.gov, the official U.S. government website for distracted driving, in 2012 distracted driving was the cause of 3,328 traffic fatalities, and approximately 421,000 people suffered injuries as a result of a distraction-related motor vehicle accident. Despite our increasing awareness of the potentially serious consequences of distracted driving, results of the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) found that, in 2011, in any given daylight moment approximately 660,000 vehicles were being driven by people who were using a handheld cell phone.
Statistics like these have prompted most states to implement distracted driving laws, which typically involve the banning of handheld cellphone use while driving, or prohibiting texting while driving. While some states, like California, have implemented primary laws regarding distracted driving – that is, police are permitted to pull drivers over for using their cellphones while driving – other states use secondary enforcement, in which drivers can only be cited for distracted driving if they’ve been pulled over for another traffic violation.
How effective, however, are distracted driving laws, and more specifically, texting-while-driving bans? A recent study by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health found that primary texting bans, such as those in force in California, do have a significant impact, particularly among those aged 15 to 21, which saw an 11 percent reduction in traffic fatalities.
While primary texting bans weren’t associated with any significant reductions in distraction-related motor vehicle accidents in the 21 to 64 age group, the study found that primary handheld cellphone bans did result in a significant reduction of traffic fatalities in this adult age group. Secondary distracted driving laws did not result in any similar significant reductions of traffic fatalities.
The study suggests that primary laws banning texting or handheld cellphone use while driving are effective in terms of reducing distraction-related traffic fatalities, although secondary laws aren’t, and texting-while-driving bans are most effective for younger drivers while handheld bans are most effective for adult drivers.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an automobile accident, Bradley I. Kramer and his experienced legal team are here to help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.