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Do Texting Bans Cause More Car Crashes?

A billboard designed by the Black Nail Brigade, founded by Greg Zaffke, whose mother Anita was kille

hide captionA billboard designed by the Black Nail Brigade, founded by Greg Zaffke, whose mother Anita was killed by a distracted motorist who was painting her nails.

Black Nail Brigade/Black Nail Brigade

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says its data suggests texting bans in most states don't prevent accidents: they might increase them.

In fact, such bans are associated with a slight increase in the frequency of insurance claims filed under collision coverage for damage to vehicles in crashes. This finding is based on comparisons of claims in 4 states before and after texting ban (s), compared with patterns of claims in nearby states.

The report is from the IIHS's Highway Loss Data Institute; both groups are funded by automobile insurers and the report is being presented at the Governors' Highway Safety Association, meeting this week in Kansas City, Mo. It suggests some drivers lower their phones into their laps to text out of sight of police officers.  Problem is, they also lower their eyes away from the road. IIHS President Adrian Lund says state lawmakers are 'focusing on a single manifestation of distracted driving and banning it. This ignores the endless sources of distraction and relies on banning one source or another to solve the whole problem'.  He may have a point.

The USA Today story cites other instances of distracted driving, including a woman with 15 loose cats in her car, motorists who eat, and the death of motorcyclist Anita Zaffke last year. Lora Hunt was painting her nails when she struck and killed Zaffke at a stop sign. Zaffke's son created the Black Nail Brigade, highlighting other distracted driving hazards.

Last week, J.J. reported on a Transportation Dept. study finding 1 in 6 motorists who died in accidents were using a cell phone. So what's killing the rest of the victims?

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