New research questions effectiveness of texting ban

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- "I think it shouldn't have taken a genius to come up with the theory, if you're not looking at the road, there's a danger," said resident, Mantha Baltz.

"The comparison is if you're not texting or you are texting, what does that do to accidents, and it clearly increases the rate in the extreme," said Randy Kesselring.

New research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says bans on texting might increase the number of accidents, because people are looking down at their phones in their laps to avoid getting caught texting while driving--taking their eyes off the road even longer.

"A lot of what the law is about is awareness of the dangers of texting and driving," said Jonesboro Police Sergeant, Steve McDaniel.

McDaniel says anytime you're distracted and your eyes aren't on the road the entire time there's a danger--whether you're distracted by phone, radio, really anything.

"I think it's done a good job of raising awareness of the issue ," said McDaniel.

McDaniel says while the law can be difficult to enforce, the laws and those who enforce those laws, are there to keep the roads and drivers safe.

"We feel like it's important to enforce laws that target distracted type driving because those distracted drivers can cause accidents and ultimately property damage and injury," said McDaniel.

Mantha Baltz says  looking down to text might cause even more of a distraction than looking up to text, but she does go onto say texting and driving in any capacity is a danger.

"Yes, it is," said Baltz.

Rates of collision insurance claims in four states, California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington, were collected by researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute before and after the texting bans were put in place.

Researchers say crash rates rose in 3 of the 4 states after the bans.  The transportation secretary disputes the findings.  He says tough laws are the first step and enforcement--adding he does believe the laws can be enforced effectively.

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