Mississippi’s July 1 ban on texting is supposed to make driving safer, but a study of such laws reveals a remarkable outcome: they’re often followed by a rise in crashes.
“There’s no question that texting while driving is distracting and dangerous,” said Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the organization that produced the 2010 study. “Unfortunately, we have no evidence that these laws reduce crashes.”
Rader said the reasons for the unlikely increase in traffic accidents are unclear. “One theory is that drivers — these laws are well publicized — may be trying to conceal what they’re doing so they’re not spotted by a police officer. So they move the device down below window level, thus taking their eyes off the road,” he said.
But the institute’s study isn’t likely to change the minds of Mississippi lawmakers, or of Gov. Phil Bryant. He signed House Bill 389 into law last Friday.