Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham recently reported that states with specific laws against texting while driving are seeing fewer fatal automobile accidents. This is encouraging, considering that the Centers for Disease Control reported 3,331 individuals lost their lives and 387,000 more were injured in car accidents involving distracted drivers in the year 2011. Cell phones were identified as the primary cause of distraction. Despite the alarming numbers of fatalities and injuries, University researchers reported that 31% of drivers between the ages of 16 and 64 admit that they continue to text and email while driving.
The UAB study was recently published in the American Journal of Public Health and may have a significant effect on lawmakers across the country. The study reported that states with specific texting while driving laws saw a three percent decrease in fatal car accidents, which could essentially save almost 20 lives per year. Those states which had similar laws specifically targeted toward the 15 to 21 year old saw an 11 % drop in fatalities among that age group. States without primarily enforced texting laws saw no measurable difference in fatal crashes.
Advocates for anti-texting laws are hopeful that this new research will lead lawmakers across the country to enact strict laws and penalties for those choosing to text or email while driving. As numbers of fatal auto accidents related to texting while driving decline, advocates are hopeful that the numbers of lives saved will steadily increase.
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