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Ray LaHood is not happy with new study  (Source: MSNBC)
Study says in observed areas accidents went up for some groups after bans

The debate over laws that forbid texting and driving or taking on the phone while driving is hotly contested. The U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood feels that the legislation and laws that are in effect around the country now are doing their job and reducing the incidence of distracted driving.

However, reports have come out that claim the opposite. The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) issued a study recently that claimed that texting bans are not reducing the number of accidents on the highways (the study focused on four states). In fact, the study claims that the number of accidents related to distracted driving actually increased in some areas the that were a part of the study.

The study angered LaHood who responded on his official blog 
FastLane this week where he claimed that the study was flawed and misleading. He wrote, "The Highway Loss Data Institute, an affiliate of IIHS, is now saying that state anti-texting laws may actually 'increase' the overall number of crashes statewide. There are numerous flaws with this "study," but the most obvious is that they have created a cause and effect that simply doesn't exist."

LaHood continued, adding, "For example, we have a national law against drunk driving. People are also required to wear seat belts. But if the number of fatalities in a state goes up one year, would it now pass as "research" to say that seat belt and anti-drunk driving laws are to blame?"

LaHood goes on to write about pilot programs that are operating in Hartford, CT and Syracuse, NY called “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other”. According to LaHood these programs have proven to be very successful at reducing the number of drivers who text and drive or talk and drive. The statistics from the enforcement campaigns have shown that hand held cell phone use has dropped 56% in Hartford and 38% in Syracuse since the campaign started and texting while driving has dropped 68% in Hartford and 42% in Syracuse.

LaHood wrote, "But you wouldn't know about the importance of good enforcement from reading IIHS's misleading report. That's because they leave enforcement completely unaddressed. But we all know that good laws don't mean anything without tough enforcement."

A recent scientific study used data similar to what the HLDI used to find a link between texting and driving that claims to have found 16,000 deaths caused by texting and driving.

MSNBC quotes HLDI's senior VP Kim Hazelbaker saying, "The results [of our study] were contrary to what we had hoped. Unfortunately, we are not seeing a decrease in collisions. We can find no evidence that these laws keep us safe."

The HLDI report based its findings on comparisons of insurance claims before and after texting was banned in four states compared to states nearby without bans in place. Hazelbaker stated, "I think there is some reason to believe there is a negative effect." He thinks that drivers may simply be moving their texting from in front of them to their lap causing the driver to take their eyes farther from the road.





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