Published September 30, 2010
In my previous post on the new texting-while-driving ban, I quoted the head of the Chiefs of Police Association saying 1) the new ban will be difficult to enforce and 2) that it may result in more, not fewer, crashes.
On The Angle, Boston.com’s new opinion blog, Rob Anderson dismisses those claims as myths:
Let’s start with myth one: Many news reports have claimed — and some well-read bloggers have repeated — that driving-text bans don’t decrease the number of texting related crashes on our roads, and, that in some states, such bans have even increased them. Here’s the problem. That argument is lifted — uncritically — from a pretty unconvincing study released by the Highway Loss and Data Institute, a group of insurers that has long opposed driving-text bans. If you ignore the media and actually take a look at the report, it’s easy to see where the group’s bias has clouded its judgment.
Ahem, count me as one of those uncritical bloggers. Anderson says there are three reasons this logic is flawed:
- The insurance companies oppose texting bans, and the study is funded by insurance companies.
- The study does not provide evidence for a causal link between texting bans and increased crashes.
- The study compares a period in which fewer people texted overall to a period in which far more people texted.
As for Myth No. 2 — that texting laws are unenforceable — Anderson points to pilot projects in Hartford, Conn., and Syracuse, N.Y., that proved effective.
After six months of enforcement, the department observed texting while driving plummet 68 percent in Hartford and 42 percent in Syracuse. These findings suggest — quite convincingly, I might add — that when carried out properly, bans can work.
It’s a thorough write-up, worth reading. We’ll have to wait to see just what effect the ban has here in Massachusetts. Regardless, you’re going to stop texting, right?