States With Texting While Driving Bans Have Fewer ER Visits After Car Crashes: Study

Good news for everyone except three US states.

byRob Stumpf|
States With Texting While Driving Bans Have Fewer ER Visits After Car Crashes: Study

Texting and driving is among one of the highest causes for distracted driving. And, according to the American Journal of Public Health, it's also responsible for a large number of motor vehicle crashes. A new study published earlier this year shows that states enacting a ban on texting while driving show a four-percent reduction in the number of emergency room visits post-accident.

The study examines data from 16 different U.S. states from 2007 to 2014, looking at the number of states which call for a ban on texting while driving and the number of motor vehicle-related hospitalizations.

On average, states that banned texting while driving reported a four-percent reduction in motor vehicle crash-related ER visits. Across all states, this accounts for an average of 1,632 car accident related hospital visits which may have been prevented thanks to the ban.

Map of U.S. showing the three states which do not possess full bans on texting and driving., data via IIHS

Presently, all but three U.S. states have laws in place which explicitly prohibit texting while driving either fully or partially. These laws come in the form of both primary and secondary offenses, meaning that police officers can pull over drivers if they suspect a moving violation is occurring (primary), or they cite a driver over for a separate offense like running a stop sign and find that it was caused by distracted driving (secondary).

States which made texting while driving a primary offense saw an even higher reduction in post-accident hospitalization, reaching an eight-percent reduction on average.

"The law can be a very useful public health intervention," said Alva Ferdinand, lead author of the study and assistant professor at Texas A&M University. "There are lives that can be saved and injuries prevented as a result of these laws."

Researchers gathered data on 16 U.S. states over the seven-year period and found that only one state, Arizona, did not have a ban on texting while driving. The 15 other states which did enact bans on distracted driving show the reduction in ER visits.