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Q
Does the New Jersey texting ban actually work?

A

While not all states have bans on texting while driving, a new study suggests that these laws are incredible effective—especially those aimed at teen drivers. Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health found that states such as New Jersey that have a primary enforcement texting ban, have seen a significant drop in the number of teenagers killed in cell phone-related crashes.

Types of Texting Bans Greatly Affect the Number of Prevented Accidents

The research team examined 11 years’ worth of crash data across 48 U.S. states, and found that the efficacy of these bans was tied to what type of law was on the books in each state. For example:

  • Texting bans alone. States that had just a law prohibiting texting resulted in a 2.3 percent decline in traffic fatalities among all age groups. However, in many of these states, police are only allowed to enforce the violation when they have pulled the driver over for another reason (also known as secondary enforcement).
  • Primary enforcement. States that allow primary enforcement—where officers can pull a driver over for texting without another reason—saw the most improvement. Primary texting bans were linked to a three percent reduction in traffic fatalities for all drivers, or about 19 deaths prevented per year in New Jersey alone.
  • Targeted campaigns. Laws designed to target primary offenders, such as bans aimed at texting teenagers, had an overwhelming effect on traffic deaths for the targeted age group. Teen deaths in primary enforcement states with targeted laws reduced deaths among teenaged drivers by 11 percent.
  • Handheld bans. The study also examined laws that banned handheld devices rather than prohibiting texting specifically. These laws were found to be most effective at reducing adult fatalities, primarily for drivers between the ages of 22 to 64.

Want to prevent someone you love from texting behind the wheel? Send them a link to this article on Facebook, or read through our related articles to find out why teenagers and their parents can’t stop driving distracted.

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