According to a recent study reported in the national media, texting and driving bans are having at least modest success in reducing the number of car accidents. The study examined the number of emergency room visits in various states. The researchers concluded that in states that had some sort of texting and driving ban, emergency rooms saw a four percent drop in the number of patients, suggesting that the bans really do prevent some dangerous car accidents.
There were a couple of interesting points about this study. For one, it seemed that, at least to some extent, any ban on texting and driving was better than no ban at all, as the study examined states with laws that differed in their degree of breadth and strictness. However, states with more comprehensive bans on texting and driving saw an even sharper reduction of visits to the emergency room.
Second, these laws seem to benefit even those age groups that one would typically not associate with distracted driving. Visits to the emergency room were lower across all age groups, including those over 65.
California’s texting and driving law is fairly comprehensive in that it prohibits all drivers from using a handheld wireless device except under limited circumstances. Police who observe a violation of this law can assess a fine, even if the driver was otherwise driving safely.
Even so, if someone who was texting and driving in Orange County causes an accident, the fact that the police are able to fine them will not, standing alone, mean the victim or the victim’s family will automatically receive compensation from the responsible party. A separate lawsuit will need to be filed.