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Texting while driving is a current lightning rod for criticism. Critics call it irresponsible, reckless and dangerous. It should come as no surprise that 26 states have passed laws prohibiting texting while driving. However, a new study by the researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute found that the level positive impact of the texting bans was...non-existent. In fact, in some states, the number of crashes actually went up after the anti-texting laws were passed.
The study analyzed crash data from California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington, analyzing the information available before and after the states banned texting while driving. Despite the lack of data showing a reduction in crashes in states that banned texting while driving, Anne Fleming, spokeswoman for the Highway Loss Data Institute, was quick to reiterate that texting while driving is dangerous: "...texting while driving or using a cell phone while driving is definitely hazardous. It's just that laws enacted to reduce this behavior are not reducing crashes."
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood called the report "completely misleading." LaHood argued that distracted driving related crashes killed almost 5,500 people last year and injured nearly 500,000 more. LaHood further pointed to earlier research which found that drivers are four times more likely to crash if using a handheld device while driving.
However, despite the lack of data demonstrating a benefit to banning texting while driving, about 97 percent of Americans support a ban on texting while driving, according to Findlaw's Common Law blog, which cited a recent New York Times/CBS News poll.