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Study questions effectiveness of driving and texting bans

In recent years, there have been several news stories about the dangers texting and driving poses. As a result, 38 states, including Tennessee, currently have laws banning texting while driving. While few would argue that it is indeed dangerous to text while driving and is a factor in many car accidents, to date there is little to no statistical evidence to support the effectiveness of texting bans.

In an effort to determine why texting bans have not been effective at decreasing motor vehicle accidents, researchers conducted a study of 108 drivers. The drivers ranged in age from 20-years-old to 60-years-old and were asked various questions related to their cellphone usage, especially while driving, and their overall driving record. The drivers were banned from using cellphones during the 40-minute drive in which data was collected about their driving habits.

The results of the study found that those drivers who admitted to frequent cellphone use while driving were more prone to engage in dangerous or aggressive driving behaviors. For example, frequent cellphone users were more prone to speed, break suddenly and change lanes frequently.

The results of the study may help explain why cellphone and texting bans aren't seemingly effective in preventing car accidents. Researchers concluded that individuals who are more prone to use cellphones while driving are inherently more aggressive drivers who likely would be involved in car accidents regardless of cellphone while driving habits.

While the results of the study are interesting, safety advocates are quick to counter that driving cellphone and especially texting bans do save lives.

Source: Science Magazine, "Why Cell Phone Bans Don't Work," Carol Cruzan Morton, Aug. 22, 2012

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