Most U.S. states now have bans on texting while driving, and those laws may be preventing some serious traffic accidents, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that car-crash hospitalizations dipped in states that instituted relatively strict bans on texting and driving between 2003 and 2010.
Overall, the hospitalization rate in those states declined by 7 percent versus states with no bans, the researchers report in the American Journal of Public Health.
The findings cannot prove that texting bans caused the shift, said study leader Alva Ferdinand, an assistant professor at Texas A&M School of Public Health.
But, she added, her team tried to account for the other factors that could explain the decline—like laws on speeding, drunk driving, handheld cellphones and teen driving restrictions.
And texting bans were still linked to a decline in hospitalizations for traffic accidents.
Specifically, the benefit was seen in states with “primarily enforced” texting bans, Ferdinand said.
That means law enforcement can pull drivers over just on suspicion of texting.