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back to article Car wrecks rise after texting bans imposed

Laws banning texting or talking on a mobile phone while driving don't reduce car accidents. "In fact," concludes the US Highway Loss Data Institute, "[texting] bans are associated with a slight increase in the frequency of insurance claims filed under collision coverage for damage to vehicles in crashes." This counter-intuitive …

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Anonymous Coward

"perhaps by attempting to avoid fines by hiding their phones from view"

As texting is illegal it could also be that drivers are now rushing to text quickly before being spotted which would increase the distraction and likelihood of an accident.

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My thought exactly...

When not explicitly illegal, you could have held the mobile on the steering wheel, in plain sight, and also had some awareness of what is going on outside the vehicle.

Now it's illegal, the mobile will be sitting on the drivers lap, stealth mode.

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Stop

the key word is "illegal"

It isn't the ban which is causing the rise in numbers.

The rate has gone up because people would rather increase their risk of an accident still further, instead of obeying the law.

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FAIL

so that is the ban

It doesn't matter how you try to explain it, that's the affect of the ban that's actually made the situation worse.

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Umm, that IS safer..

If the device is held on the steering wheel while the airbag goes off it won't give a very pretty result. Come to think of it, are drivers also distracted when they are poking their nose? That would be a *perfect* moment for an airbag to go off - I'd love to see the medical claim form for that one..

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And touch screen phones...

I could easily send a text on my old N95 without looking at it by the feel of a physical keypad. Most smartphones are keypadless and need your eyes to see what you are texting. Some have qwerty keyboards but its easier to use both hands (thumbs) to write anything on them.

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@Steve 13

No, it's the fault of the morons who are breaking the law. Are you one of them?

P.S. The word you were looking for was "effect".

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Joke

There's just too many distractions...

I can bet every driver who visits The Reg has been distracted by:

Stuff rolling of passenger seat onto floor.

Spilling a drink

A pedestrian with interesting assets

Lack of sleep

Eating at the wheel

Changing the music

Following a satnav

A winged insect inside the car

A low flying aircraft

The Fuzz

Road Rage

Mind altering substances

Road Works

Other drivers

The road

The sky

A tree

A badger

Another badger

A badger in a tree

A badger in a tree above roadworks on mind altering substances

A badger in a tree above roadworks on mind altering substances with interesting assets

Where were we?

Oh yeah, phones, terribly distracting, a menace on our roads!

Ban them, ban them all - roads that is, we need our phones and cars, we can drive them across fields instead. Buy a tractor.

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In order

No (unless you count the passenger)

Absolutely never

weeelllll, yes

yes (shame)

never

yes

no

yes

yes - though it was a helicopter and it was crop spraying and the car did get doused, liberally

hmmm

mumble

yes (deep shame)

eh?

no

uh? no

no

no

badger? no - though I once braked for a wild boar

s/badger/pigeon/ yes - when it hit the windscreen

a badger in a light aircraft with a blue flashing light following a satnav while eating and stoned? - err, not yet - though that would be one _interesting_ insurance claim.

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Pint

Men are from Mars...

Man from Mars; did you create a new account because you couldn't remember your password?

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One factor less...

...is one factor less. In that vein, perhaps we should have metal spikes put on steering wheels. You can get people would pay attention then!

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Badgers

I propose...

a new section to the driving test. Show the candidate the above items during the test, if they are distracted by any of them, they fail.

Should make the roads safer... and much quieter.

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FAIL

only ever suggested by idiots

Why don't you try it out. Then when someone crashes into you through no fault of your own, with your dying breath you can declare it to not be as effective as you thought.

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@Steve 13

Was that directed at me?

Idiot I may be, but the theory of risk compensation (or risk homeostasis is you prefer) isn't.

It's where people try to keep the perceived risk at a level they are comfortable (excitement/arousal offset against fear). If you make things too safe, people try to up the risk factor. If you make them dangerous (or at least, seem dangerous) then people do what they can to lower the risk factor.

So, spikes on steering wheels? Yup, if they were on all cars then people would take more care.

The studies have been done, the evidence is there. Two launch points for you:

http://www.damninteresting.com/the-balance-of-risk

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk_compensation

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Yes, I have been distracted by most of those...

... including badgers. But none of them compare to trying to text someone while driving. Phones are bad, texting much worse in my experience. Excepting falling asleep, I think that has to top all other distractions.

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Big Brother

"Must do something" activist politicians in no result shocker!

But hey, it keeps the cops and bureaucrats alive and well-fed.

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Distraction

Allowing yourself to be distracted while driving is careless driving - why don't we have a law against..... oh wait.

Truth be told these "texting" and mobile phone laws are - like all other such legislation - just a pile of populist arse.

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Coat

"...to swatting bees..."

I tell you what - bees need to be banned from cars. They're dangerous, that's what they are, and it's high time we did something about it.

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Laws don't change behavior. Enforcement might.

In the states with laws, how many prosecutions and convictions did they lead to?

France has had laws banning women from wearing trousers since 1799 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/7677686/Paris-trouser-ban-for-women-could-be-lifted.html

So why do women in France still sometimes wear trousers? Because the law has never been enforced.

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Go

Damn straight

I, for one, demand that the French enforce this law.

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Bronze badge

Something must be done

You can't legislate common sense into people. The best you can do it try to educate.

This doesn't stop the 'something must be done' brigade who don't care if what they do makes things better or worse.

All they care about is appearing to do something because in this politically correct bullshit world doing something which makes matters worse is less of a crime than doing nothing and appearing not to care.

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Why?

Perhaps people dont care about thedanger, and accept that risk when they go on the roads.

If you dont accept the risk, there is always the train!

People want to lead risky lives, its what adds excitement, and the more we ban / limit / educate (patronise) against risk, the more people want to break free from this crap.

I dont think we should do anything!

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Whose risk

You do not have any more right to use the road than I do and you certainly do not have the right to decide how much I should be put at risk when I use the road. I hope you live a long way from me.

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WTF?

Train?!? Whazzat?

Tony, you're obviously a Continental. Come to the Colonies some day and see if that "train" statement makes any sense in this context.

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Unhappy

Gee, what a surprise!

I think the solution is for cell phones to be disabled while in a moving vehicle. Make them divert calls to voicemail automatically, and text messages similarly held until the car is stopped or turned off. I know that I am distracted trying just to talk on my cell while driving, and normally let it ring and call back when I am stopped. I would NEVER try to text and drive. I don't text anyway, it takes longer to type in that it's worth.

Personally I feel cell phones are the single most disruptive factor in modern life. Just look at how teenagers are addicted to their phones and texting. Studies have conclusively shown that their schoolwork suffers due to their preoccupation with the devices.

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disable phones in moving vehicles

I'm sure that would go down well with my wife, chatting on her phone in the passenger seat while I drive. And what about the morning commuters on the bus?

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"Gee, what a surprise"

I'm guessing that you ARE actually surprised and was not being sarcastic. Because the results in the article WERE surprising. You would expect that there would be a drop in accidents in the states that banned texting, the the inverse is true.

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Coat

Easy..

"And what about the morning commuters on the bus?" - well, it's high time they stop distracting me when doing the crosswords..

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Anonymous Coward

It used to be...

You talked with your fellow travelers on the journey.

Does your wife hate you so much she'd rather talk to other people?

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Badgers

This is not a title.

> And what about the morning commuters on the bus?

And what about them? I, for one, don't need to hear how sh*tcanned Suzie the office tramp got last night, the gory details of someone's broken arm, or anything involving the politics in anyone's office.

I wonder sometimes, if people have become convinced that they will cease to exist if they don't communicate with someone 24-7-365 (366 on leap years).

Badgers!

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Badgers

Bans don't work

How about perhaps better driving education instead of blanket lowest-common-denominator rules like "you will never use a phone in a car even while stuck in traffic" or "you will never exceed 40mph here whatever the conditions" that make the numpties think they are perfect drivers if only they OBEY.

@Matt89 Badgers are a bloody hazard. I know for a fact that hitting one is good for neither badger nor mondeo. :(

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Pint

Don't call me Shirley

Surely a better measurement of how many accidents happen on the roads would be the police department's records. I simply wouldn't trust an insurance company's data if it reported that the sky was blue.

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Grenade

Shirley you jest

Police departments don't keep any better track. Half the time little dingers that don't stop traffic or require medical attention are brushed aside because there are more important things to do. You know like ignoring those burglary reports, "yes, yes, please come down to the station and fill out fourteen copies of this pointless form that we will misplace in case you call to follow up and we can request you fill out another fifteen copies until you get the fact that nobody else cares unless someone died or we can get some big bucks like confiscating 'drug' property. Half an ice day."

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You can spot a phone user a mile away

Perhaps the reason why they don't cause accidents is because others tend to drive more defensively around them.

Regardless of the accident rate, they should still be banned if only to stop irritating road use.

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Stop

Obeyed?

I don't know about the US, but here in Canada we have had new phone/texting distraction laws recently enacted and I can't honestly say that I've noticed any change in the behaviour of drivers. They still openly use mobile phones while driving.

It's like speeding: if they think that there is a good change they can get away with it, they will continue to do it.

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Yep

The state I reside in has had a texting ban since January. The county announce recently they have imposed fines on 12 people.

I would like to know what roads they drive on - I can see that many on my 2 mile commute home

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yea here too

We had cell phone bans in place for over a year, and texting bans for a few months. I've yet to see anyone actually get pulled over for wither as they don't even bother hiding it. Hell I usually see the cops driving and talking or texting on their phones while people drive through red lights in front of them...

My cities police force is in a very sad state.

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Enforcement?

Did the study take into account the levels of enforcement of the bans?

Just because a law is made doesn't mean people will change what they do.

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Maybe the problem is growing very rapidly

It seems likely to me that the problem of texting while driving has actually increased during the interval since the laws were passed. States with a bigger initial perceived problem were more likely to pass laws. Inferring that the laws somehow exacerbate the problem is criminal. This is an epidemic; make no mistake about it.

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Not in this survey

The US provides a good laboratory for testing this question while eliminating that kind of variable, because some states have the laws while others don't.

If accident rates in states with bans increase, while there is no corresponding increase in neighbouring states that don't have bans, then you can reasonably conclude that "it might have been even worse without $THING_I_WANT_TO_DEFEND" is *not* a valid argument.

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Coat

Pick yer own title

Somehow, I don't think comparing the accident rates in Wyoming to those in Illinois would present a decent correlation, regardless of the hoops you jumped through to isolate the dependent variable....

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Dependent variable

The dependent variable is the relative change in accident rates per state pre and post ban. There - I isolated that for you.

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Silver badge

if you want to reduce distractions in cars

The number 1 thing you need to do is to make it illegal to transport children in them.

Trying to sort out your kids is far more distracting than using a mobe.

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A horrible overreaction and infringing their human rights

A much more humane approach would be to simply chloroform children before setting off. If your local pharmacist can't help a bottle of vodka per child is extremely effective and has the additional benefit of introducing your kids to adult life in modern Britain.

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That reminds me a bit

Of something that Rita Rudner once said (at least I think it was her):

"They should ban eating and driving instead of drinking and driving. At least people who drink and drive are /trying/ to drive."

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Stop

Why are new parents allowed to drive?

They can barely keep their eyes open, string a sentence together, or remember what day it is.

They live in a zombified state of sleep deprivation.

But apparently we let these zombies drive?

PS "claims going down" does not equate to "accidents going down". If you've been in a *small* accident and you were texting, you'll be well keen to have it forgotten (or "here's a hundred quid, would that cover it"), rather than to get insurance firms involved and have to lie on record. That seven percent drop is the number of crashers who were using their mobiles, I mean, DUH!

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What is new?

Please tell me when being new stops and I will get some bloody sleep?

P.S. Catch the train into work !

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Some drivers are just dangerous, they need to take responsibility

At the end of the day the gov can want to lower car crashes, but its one of those hard to enforce laws, you have to entrust that they are going to keep them, which is obv not that case.. You have to be able to change peoples actual concerns when they drive for their own safety, rather than just imposing laws you can't enforce. Abit bit of propaganda might help!

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Anonymous Coward

(untitled)

The soultion ? Hands free system with speech to text facility for texting on the move. (Or any time you want to give your thumb a rest.)

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