Researchers examined emergency department data in 16 US states between 2007 and 2014. States were selected based on the availability of information on road crashes requiring emergency treatment.
In the United States, 47 out of 50 states currently have laws restricting texting while driving. Of the 16 states examined by researchers, all but one (Arizona) applied one of these laws.
SMS bans while driving are either primary laws, which means that drivers can be stopped for sending SMS, regardless of whether another offense is being committed, or secondary laws in which drivers are sanctioned for sending SMS only after another offense such as speed or red light. took place. Some states apply the ban to all drivers, while others only allow new drivers.
Drivers of all ages, even those over 65, who are not generally known to send SMS while driving, have seen a reduction in the number of injuries resulting from accidents.
Alva Ferdinand, lead author of the study, a lawyer and assistant professor of health policy at the School of Public Health of Texas A & M University, explained that her research has always focused on whether the laws that people consider punitive can have an impact on health. .
"The law can be a very useful public health intervention, there are lives that can be saved and injuries prevented through these laws," said Ferdinand.
In 2016, nearly 3,500 people lost their lives and 391,000 were injured, but survived a distracted driving accident, including sending SMS, according to National Highway Traffic Safety data. Administration.
Previous studies have shown no benefit to laws that allow drivers to send SMS only as a result of another violation. However, these studies have mainly focused on the possibility of a reduction in the number of deaths, explain the authors. Injuries are a much more likely outcome, they argue, and are therefore important to study and take into account in public health efforts.
Ferdinand explained that the study had two main limitations. It did not measure the quality of law enforcement in different states and, perhaps most importantly, did not include the 50 states.
Despite his limitations, Ferdinand is confident that the same trends are true across the country.