Texting while driving: State laws reduce crash injuries, study says

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On average, U.S. states gain a 7 percent drop in hospitalizations related to car crashes when they outlaw texting while driving, a new study says.

Hospitalizations were reduced the most – 9 percent – among 22-64 year olds and those aged 65 and older, according to research recently published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Alva O. Ferdinand, an assistant professor at the Texas A&M University Health Science Center’s School of Public Health, led a team that examined crash-related hospitalizations before and after states passed laws to ban texting while driving. Nineteen states were included in the study, which examined 2003-10 data on hospital discharges. Some states had enacted bans while other states, including Texas, had not.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2.5 million adult drivers and passengers sought medical attention after a motor vehicle crash in the United States during 2012.

Ferdinand said, “Our research indicates that adults in states with a primary texting ban stand to benefit the most in terms of potentially avoiding crash-related hospitalizations. Given that the texting driver may cause a crash, but may not be the one most seriously injured, restricting texting bans to young drivers only is perhaps not the best approach to preventing crash-related hospitalizations.”

Co-author Michael Morrisey, a professor of health policy and management at the school, said, “Because we are seeing improvements in the economy and gasoline prices are about one dollar cheaper than they were this time last year, states should be considering steps to implement policies such as texting bans that will help to offset these trends.”

More at the Texas A&M University Health Science Center

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