Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Auto fatalities and the law of unintended consequences

Since texting while driving is clearly a stupid thing to do, has the banning of texting made the roads safer? No, says a new study. The Christian Science Monitor reports:
State laws prohibiting texting while driving have not reduced car crashes, and in some places may have actually increased the number of accidents, says new safety research released Tuesday. . . .

“There is a lot of media attention on the topic in general, but it’s difficult to find specific policy solutions,” says Fernando Wilson, an assistant professor at the University of North Texas in Denton. Last week, his study showing that texting while driving had increased auto fatalities by more than 16,000 between 2001 and 2007 was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

How could a ban on texting make driving less safe? One possible explanation is that the drivers who are stupid enough to text while driving probably also react to the law in a stupid manner. They may see the problem as one of avoiding getting caught which they could do by holding the phone lower in the car so others can't see it. Of course, by holding it lower, their eyes are further off the road than before, making their driving more dangerous.

Are their many people who actually text while driving? Wired reports that half of 18 to 24 year old drivers admit to texting while driving. Young and immortal.

PREVIOUSLY on unintended consequences:
Liberals versus unintended consequences
Campaign finance reform and unintended consequences
Obama, liberal idealism, and unintended consequences
San Francisco liberals drive blacks from city

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