*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on Forbes.com.
When laws that ban teenage drivers in the United States from texting, using hand-held phones, and engaging in other distracted behavior are implemented, they work. It’s important, as motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death among teens in this country, and distracted driving is known to increase the crash risk for all drivers.
Those are the highlights of a new study that set out to determine the link between state distracted driving laws and fatal crash rates involving 16- to 19-year-old drivers.
“Distracted Driving Laws and Motor Vehicle Crash Fatalities,” published in the journal Pediatrics in June, found that states with primary texting bans had significantly lower crash death rates overall involving teen drivers.
Researchers analyzed 38,215 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. involving teen drivers and passengers between 2007-2017, based on federal data. Deaths involving teenage drivers increased with each year of age; they were highest for 19-year-old drivers.
The number of states with any type of distracted driving law increased from 15 in 2007 to 47 in 2017, the time period of the study. Rates of fatal crashes involving 16-19-year-old drivers decreased by nearly a third during that time. Primary laws were most effective, but states with secondary laws also experienced a lower death rate than states with no laws at all. In addition, primary and secondary texting laws were associated with a reduction in teenage passenger deaths.