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Study: Texting bans don't reduce crashes

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Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood speaks during a Distracted Driving summit hosted by the Transportation Department at a hotel in Washington on September 21, 2010. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/d2579f144ca2ba430e344abb4139420c/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood speaks during a Distracted Driving summit hosted by the Transportation Department at a hotel in Washington on September 21, 2010. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg | License Photo

ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 28 (UPI) -- A U.S. study found no reduction in texting-related crashes where laws ban texting while driving, the Highway Loss Data Institute said.

In fact, the bans have been linked with a slight increase in the frequency of insurance claims filed under collision coverage for damage to vehicles in crashes, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington, Va., said Tuesday in a release.

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"Texting bans haven't reduced crashes at all. In a perverse twist, crashes increased in three of the four states we studied after bans were enacted. It's an indication that texting bans might even increase the risk of texting for drivers who continue to do so despite the laws," said Adrian Lund, president of the Highway Loss Data Institute and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

HLDI researchers calculated rates of collision claims during the months immediately before and after driver texting was banned in California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington. Comparable data were collected in nearby states where texting laws weren't substantially changed during the study. The state-to-state comparison allowed for possible changes in collision claim rates unrelated to the bans, such as changes in the number of miles driven because of the economy or seasonal changes in driving patterns.

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HLDI previously found hand-held phone bans didn't reduce crashes, Lund said.

The findings didn't mean texting while driving was safe, he said.

"The point of texting bans is to reduce crashes, and by this essential measure the laws are ineffective," Lund said, noting that "finding no reduction in crashes, or even a small increase, doesn't mean it's safe to text and drive, though. There's a crash risk associated with doing this. It's just that bans aren't reducing this crash risk."

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