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Banning teen texting most effective at reducing fatalities

Worries over distracted driving have many potential sources. Virtually any activity combined with driving can result in a deadly car accident. From fiddling with a adjustment on a radio or climate control system to eating or smoking in a car, they all take your eyes and mind off the road, if only for a second.

The trouble is, at 60 to 100 feet per second, you can get into a great deal of trouble in that second or two that you as you adjust the coffee cup's alignment so you can drink.

Nevertheless, those distractions have always been present in motor vehicles. It was the addition of a new source of distraction that has driven new concerns over distraction. The cellphone suddenly became a significant source of distraction. Then they got worse with the ability to text.

Texting is one of the most distracting activities a driver can engage in. Some studies have found it creates impairment similar to a drunk driver. During the last decade or so, numerous laws have been passed by many states in an attempt to deal with this problem and prevent it from causing an ever-greater number of car accidents.

Varying prohibitions, from texting for teens to outright bans on the use of handheld electronic devices, have been put in place. There has been a worry that it will have little effect, because it is difficult for an officer to observe a driver texting in many circumstances.

A new study has found that texting bans do have a positive effect on traffic fatalities. The best are those that allow primary enforcement, meaning the police can stop your vehicle if they see you texting, and do not need another traffic violation.

The study also reports that bans that target teens reduced fatalities by 11 percent and that total bans on handheld devices was the most effective method of reducing deaths for drivers older than 22 years of age.

Source: The Washington Post, "Texting bans work: They cut teen traffic deaths by 11 percent, study finds," Niraj Chokski, August 1, 2014

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