Oklahoma’s 1-year-old ban on texting while driving has paid off, an analysis by the state Highway Safety Office suggests.
At the anniversary of the state’s texting & driving law, statistics show reductions in distraction-related events across the board: in total crashes linked to distractions, injury and non-injury crashes, and in fatalities.
The Oklahoma texting law went into effect Nov. 1, 2015. (Oklahoma at the time was one of the few remaining states without a ban on text messaging by all drivers.)
Studies of the effectiveness of handheld device laws have produced mixed results over the past decade. In some states, distraction-related crashes even increase after laws are enacted. In part, this is because smartphone use has skyrocketed — many more drivers possess and use the devices than in earlier comparable periods.
Police and safety officials also have been addressing widespread underreporting of the problem, leading to a more accurate picture of the hazard.
“The causes of motor vehicle crashes are many and varied but it’s clear that Oklahomans are thinking twice before picking up their cell phone while driving,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “Lives are being saved, injuries are being prevented and families are being saved the anguish of traffic collisions.”
The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office examined crashes involving drivers using electronic devices from November 2014 through July 2015 and compared those monthly numbers with the same types of crashes from November 2015 through July 2016.
- Total crashes fell 12 percent.
- Injury crashes fell 22 percent.
- Fatalities dropped 30 percent.
- Non-injury crashes fell 6 percent.
2016 figures are preliminary.
Read more about distracted driving laws in Oklahoma.