Effectiveness of Alabama’s texting and driving ban questioned

Texting behind the wheel has been illegal in Alabama since 2012, but recent statistics suggest the ban has not been as effective at reducing accidents and preventing deaths as many would have liked. According to Fox 6, the number of accidents involving drivers who were distracted by technology jumped every year since the ban was enacted except for the year immediately following it, where numbers took a slight dip.

To put it in perspective, 2011 saw 1,171 distracted-driving related crashes involving drivers using communicative devices, and that was the last year before the texting and driving ban officially took effect. In 2016, there were an estimated 1,586 accidents involving motorists using communicative devices, which was an increase of 196 crashes over the year prior. 

As sobering as these statistics are, some safety advocates fear they only tell part of the story. Part of this may be due to the fact that it can be tough to prove that a distraction is what was responsible for a crash. Additionally, many people who text and drive behind the wheel never get caught, so it is virtually impossible to get accurate statistics about how prevalent the problem is.

Part of the reason that texting and driving is so dangerous is that combines all three types of distracted driving behaviors. It takes a motorist’s visual attention away when he or she looks down at the phone, and it takes manual attention away, too, because a driver has to hold the phone and respond using his or her hands. Finally, it also takes away cognitive attention, and this holds true regardless of whether one is reading and interpreting a text received or determining how to respond to one. 

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