LaHood refutes study showing distracted driving laws have little effect

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on Tuesday refuted a study from the Highway Loss Data Institute that found texting laws do not reduce fatal crashes, but actually slightly increase incidents.

Findings from the study (.pdf file) were based on crash claims in four states before and after texting bans went into effect. Researchers said the study calls into question the way policymakers are addressing distracted driving.

LaHood said the study is inconsistent with previous research from the institute that showed drivers are 4 times more likely to crash when using a handheld device while driving. The study also did not take into account whether distracted driving behavior went up or down in the four states, he said. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a pilot study (.pdf file) of enforcement efforts in Hartford, CT, and Syracuse, NY, show education, laws and enforcement can reduce distracted driving behavior, LaHood said.

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