A few weeks ago I published a graph showing that our roads have actually become safer as more and more Americans use cell phones. Chatting on the phone is one thing, but surely texting behind the wheel is another. After all, we keep hearing that texting-while-driving is worse than drunk driving. And legislatures around the country are rushing to ban it.
But the fact of the matter is that as text messaging has exploded in popularity— Americans sent fewer than 60 billion texts in 2005 and more than 1.3 trillion in 2009 — fatalities from car crashes have declined. Today, are roads are safer than ever.
Here is a graph of fatal car crashes per 100 million miles driven and the average number of text messages sent per-month by Americans. The data is from the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration and the Neilson Survey.
Texting from behind the wheel is almost certainly distracting. But the same thing is true of a whole host of things we regularly cope with while driving, like playing with the radio, eating fast food and trying to clam a car full of crying kids.
It might even be the case that for old people who are bad at using cell phones some drivers, texting is more distracting than other common behind-the-wheel activites. But it not an imminent public threat.
So why is it we need to ban texting again? Oh yeah, to raise money
(Hat tip, Jake)
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