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Bans on Texting While Driving Cut Teen Deaths 11 Percent

Texting while driving is stupid and dangerous—there’s wide agreement on that. Until now, though, there’s been little information about how to stop it. A new study has good news: The easiest and most obvious intervention—making texting while driving illegal—works. Traffic fatalities dropped 3 percent in states that allow police to pull over drivers for texting, according to new research from the American Journal of Public Health. States that focus the prohibition specifically on younger drivers cut traffic deaths among 15- to 21-year-olds by 11 percent.

The findings, published in the August issue of the Journal of American Health, represent the best proof yet that widespread antitexting laws are effective. Analyzing national traffic fatality data over an 11-year period, researchers studied the effects of laws that that allow police to stop drivers specifically for texting (called primary enforcement laws), as well as of laws that ban the practice but allow police to write tickets only in conjunction with other traffic violations. Primary enforcement laws proved most effective, preventing an average of nearly 20 vehicular deaths per state, per year.