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Study: Everyone's Ignoring Those No-Texting-While-Driving Laws

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A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that texting while driving has only increased as states have rolled out laws meant to crack down on the common but deadly practice.

The NHTSA conducted a stake-out out at different intersections around the country, taking snapshots of drivers to find out what else they're doing while they're supposed to have their eyes on the road. It also conducted a phone survey of 6,000 drivers 18 or older a year ago. Here's a round-up of stats from the Associated Press' story on the study:

  • 35 states have a ban on texting while driving
  • Based on the stakeout, just under 1 percent (.9 percent) of drivers are texting or using some sort of hand-held device at any given time
  • Last year when they conduct the same stakeout .6 percent of drivers were texting behind the wheel
  • 18 percent of drivers admitted to pollsters that they have sent messages from behind the wheel
  • About half of drivers 21 to 24 admit the same thing
  • 3,092 car crash deaths in 2010 — including this one — were attributed to distracted driving (the NHTSA is just starting to keep track of this so it's hard to tell if this has gotten better or worse)

The NHTSA says it has a solution to this problem: doing a better job of enforcing the laws already on the books. Pilot projects in Syracuse and Hartford showed that high-profile education campaigns and more ticketing reduced the number of distracted drivers on the road by 57 percent and 75 percent respectively.