Car Crash-Related ER Visits Fall in States With Texting Bans

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U.S. states that banned texting while driving have seen a 4 percent decrease in emergency room visits after motor vehicle crashes from 2007 to 2014 — 1,632 fewer crash-related ER visits per year — finds a new analysis in the American Journal of Public Health.

All but three states (Arizona, Montana, Missouri) have laws restricting texting while driving. Some have primary texting ban laws and others have secondary laws banning texting. In states with primary test-ban laws, drivers can be stopped by the police for texting whether an additional traffic violation occurred or not. In states with secondary laws, drivers can be cited for texting only if they’re first stopped for another violation — speeding, for example.

Researchers at Texas A&M University in College Station looked at emergency room data from 16 states, 15 of which had a primary or secondary texting ban. While the average ER-visit decrease was 4 percent, states with primary texting bans saw an overall decrease of 8 percent, in drivers of all ages.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 3,500 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in crashes related to distracted driving, including texting, in 2016. Additional research is needed to analyze the effects of texting bans in all 50 states.