The Washington Post reports that motorists are largely ignoring state-passed laws banning drivers from text messaging while behind the wheel.
Our North Carolina personal injury attorneys and wrongful death lawyers frequently report on the dangers of text messaging while driving and the patchwork of laws aimed at forbidding the practice. North Carolina bans drivers from text messaging; South Carolina has no such law. Thirty states have issued bans and eight others forbid all use of hand-held cell phones by drivers.
The Post reports it has been almost 150 years since the first speeding law took effect, and enforcement has limited effects on those motorists who still insist upon speeding. Speeding, distracted driving and drunk driving are the leading causes of fatal car accidents nationwide.
A report by the Highway Loss Data Institute compared four states that prohibit text messaging with four states where it is allowed and found no significant reduction.
"The point of texting bans is to reduce crashes, and by this essential measure the laws are ineffective," said Adrian Lund, president of the research group and of the affiliated Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has thus been critical on the hyper-focus given distracted driving, saying it is taking focus away from developing new safety technologies and otherwise working to improve driver safety.
Not surprisingly, the federal government disagrees, having focused an enormous amount of time and resources on the dangers of distracted driving, and text messaging in particular.
"This report is completely misleading," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Distracted driving-related crashes killed nearly 5,500 people in 2009 and injured almost half a million more. Lives are at stake, and all the reputable research we have says that tough laws, good enforcement and increased public awareness will help put a stop to the deadly epidemic of distracted driving on our roads."