Wrecks increase in Louisiana after texting ban, study shows

HHS, DHS students take part in mock texting crash


October 08, 2010 at 8:57 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

In order to avoid being seen texting while driving by police, drivers may be hiding their phones and texting anyway. This forces them to take their eyes completely off the road.
Jonathan Menard
In order to avoid being seen texting while driving by police, drivers may be hiding their phones and texting anyway. This forces them to take their eyes completely off the road.
While Louisiana recently made it illegal to text and drive, data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety actually shows that accident rates have increased since the ban took affect.


Noncompliance is likely one reason why texting bans aren’t reducing crashes. Survey results show that many drivers, especially young ones, shrug off the texting ban. Among 18-24 year olds, 45 percent reported doing so in states that bar all drivers from texting, according to the IIHS.


But this doesn’t explain why crashes increased after texting bans, Adrian Lund, the president of the IIHS, said. Lund points out that if drivers were disregarding the bans, the crash patterns should have remained steady.


"So clearly drivers did respond to the bans somehow, and what they might have been doing was moving their phones down and out of site when they texted, in recognition that what they were doing was illegal," he said. "This could exacerbate the risk of texting by taking drivers’ eyes further from the road and for a longer time."


During a recent study that used a driving simulator, researchers found a sharp decrease in crash likelihood when participants switched from head-down to head-up displays. This suggests that it might be more hazardous for a driver to text from a device that’s hidden from view on the lap or vehicle seat.


To dramatically illustrate the risks of texting while driving, students from both Destrehan and Hahnville high schools participated in a mock crash.


During the event, which took place Wednesday at the ITT Technical Institute campus in St. Rose, the students acted out a fatal crash scenario that involved text messaging.


“It was a theatrical play that followed the crash victims from the accident scene to the death notice,” Rhonda Christen, of ITT Tech, said. “A trauma unit was also set up so that students visiting from surrounding parishes could see how an event like this impacts everyone.”


Parents of the students also played parts in the scenario to show the emotional suffering families endure when a fatal or serious injury crash occurs.


“It really opened up their eyes,” Christen said.


Texting in general is on the increase. In just one year, text messaging went up 60 percent. There were 1 trillion messages delivered in 2008 and 1.6 trillion in 2009. 




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