Ban on texting while driving causes increase in crashes – and other laws that backfired

Don’t text and drive is the new vogue restriction throughout the nation, one that just oozes with common sense and would surely make streets safer – or not.

Text bans while driving caused an increase in crashes/Thinkstock

Crashes actually increased in at least three states after those states put texting bans into place, according to a study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute.

The study examined collision insurance claims in Louisiana, Washington, Minnesota and California before and after texting while driving bans went into effect.

The only state of the four that did not see an overall increase in crashes was Minnesota.

Thirty states have texting while driving bans in place. Arizona is not one of them, although Phoenix has restrictions.

Theory has it that even with the ban people continue to text and drive, but quickly hide their phones under the dashboard or their laps when they spot law enforcement patrolling the streets. Of course, their eyes follow their phones under the dashboard or into their laps and there goes the nearest lamppost.

Still, 92 percent of people polled by AAA said texting while driving is unacceptable –  yet 24 percent of folks in that same poll admitted to doing it within the last month.

Go figure.

A few other bans have been equally ineffective, backfiring in major ways and making matters worse – not better.

Take prohibition. This ban on the manufacturing, selling and distribution of alcohol was meant to decrease problems that come with being perpetually drunk, like unemployment, vomiting in public and beating up on children, wives and whoever was standing nearby.

Instead it gave rise to new, even bloodier crimes due to illegal smuggling of alcohol and fun fellows like Al Capone. Capone and pals killed to conquer the bootlegging market.

The smoking ban that’s puffing its way across the nation has also had its detrimental side effects – and not because a bunch of bowling alleys suddenly went bankrupt.

It’s because more people started driving drunk. A study at the University of Wisconsin showed drinkers who smoke were willing to drive far and wide to find a bar that allows smoking, even if it were in the next city, jurisdiction or state.

This means, of course, these smoker-drinkers have to drive equally far and wide to get home after they’ve had a few and are a bit tipsy.

Sexual predator restrictions have also backfired in some areas. Many cities have bans on registered sex offenders living within a certain amount of distance from schools, parks and anywhere else kids congregate.

Problem is, kids congregate in a heck of a lot of places.

This left many registered sex offenders few or no legal options for housing, prompting many to simply move to the next town. Once that town, too, put restrictions in place, the molesters moved on again. Once they ran out of towns, many ended up homeless, dwelling in grungy lairs beneath a highway overpass.

Hopefully there’s not a lot of folks texting while driving around those overpasses.


Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who finds both texting and driving tedious and therefore would never combine the two. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at and E-mail

What do you think?

Do you text and drive?

Would you still text while driving even if it were banned?

What bans do you find effective? Ridiculous?

Do you know of other bans that have backfired?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
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10 Responses to Ban on texting while driving causes increase in crashes – and other laws that backfired

  1. Oakland says:

    I like the no more than two kids per house hold, maybe it would reduce the amount of stops that the school bus makes. I just love how were trying to get soda and junk food out of the school system, but we cant make them walk more than 500 feet to get on the bus or home.

    • Rynski says:

      hey oakland,
      two kids per household would surely take some of the strain off the school bus stops – hahahha.
      also great point on the soda and junk food ‘bans’ but no one wanting to walk more than 500 feet (i’d make that 50 feet – hahah).
      my guess is sheer laziness. it’s much easier, physically, to ban junk food from schools that it is to move a muscle, after all – hahahahah.

  2. tiponeill says:

    The Prohibition against Marijuana is the most obvious failure in the US today, but other “morality” laws are conspicuous failures too, like bans on Prostitution.
    I see in Canada last week a judge ruled their anti-prostitution laws unconstitutional.

    • Rynski says:

      thanks for pointing out the anti-prostitutional ruling – i must check that out, for sure. tooooo much.
      it also got me thinking that ‘morality’ laws could be twisted around so they are no longer about being moral but being safe.
      for instance, prostitution can lead to robberies, murders, stds and aids, no?
      and marijuana and alcohol, well, they impair driving and operating cranes on fort lowell….
      you get the picture.

  3. Alan in Kent WA says:

    The country isn’t safe as long as Congress is in session.  Although this isn’t Congress, it is still government in action.  We already have enough laws.  One more isn’t going to make people change.  One more law will not make us safer. 

    • notagain says:

      Great point.   Our “representatives” seem more focused on protecting us from ourselves than from any of the clear and present dangers that exist inside and outside of our borders. Also a great (paraphrased) quote. 
      Truly, our freedoms are not safe as long as congress is in session.

    • Rynski says:

      hey alan in kent wa – too funny – but also waaaay too true.
      one more law just means one more fine someone who breaks it gets to pay.
      also agree with your assessment notagain, about the push to protect people from themselves. again, waaaay too true.
      thanks, both.

  4. notagain says:

    The initial analysis of the data, so far, reminds me of a quote from Mark Twain…
    “There are 3 kinds of lies…lies, damn lies, and statistics.”
    I’ve watched people try and drive while texting and there is no waythat the results make any sense whatsoever.  The only thing that would make sense is that they are trying harder to conceal their actions, thereby making it even more dangerous.

  5. Erik Wood says:

    Business people need to ‘hit the ball over the net’.  Teens consider it rude not to reply immediately to texts.  Home schedules would grind to a halt without immediate communication.  We are conditioned to pursue this level of efficiency but we are all supposed cease this behavior once we sit in our respective 5,000 pound pieces of steel and glass.  Anyone can win an argument in a forum like this by saying “Just put the phone away” – but we can see its just not happening.

    I just read that 72% of teens text daily – many text more 3000 times a month.  New college students no longer have email addresses!  They use texting and Facebook – even with their professors.   This text and drive issue is in its infancy and its not going away.

    I decided to do something about it after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver . Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user (especially teens) I built a tool called OTTER that is a simple app for smartphones.  I think if we can empower the individual then change will come to our highways now and not just our laws.

    Erik Wood, owner
    OTTER app

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