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Do Tennessee texting while driving laws prevent personal injury?

In the state of Tennessee, it is illegal to send text messages on one’s cell phone while driving. As most readers of this blog are well aware, though, just because a law is on the books does not mean that drivers will actually abide by the law. This gives rise to the question: Are text messaging while driving bans actually working to prevent car accidents that often result in wrongful death and/or personal injury?

According to a university in a neighboring state, statistical analysis shows that states with the strictest text messaging bans are achieving the best results. On average, in states who enforce primary text messaging bans on drivers, motor vehicle death statistics are 3 percent lower than states without such laws. A primary ban means that police officers can pull a driver over for the offenses, as opposed to a secondary ban, which cannot cause a driver to be pulled over by itself. States with secondary text messaging bans have not shown any noticeable results.

Certain states are also experimenting with primary text messaging directed specifically at younger drivers. These states show an 11 percent drop in motor vehicle related deaths among younger drivers. The research scientists who conducted the study hope that their statistics will encourage more states to enact primary enforcement texting while driving laws.

Distracted driving can occur in many different ways on Tennessee roads, be it caused by fast food, fumbling with a radio or text messaging. Those who suffer a personal injury as a result of a distracted driver, though, may have recourse available to them in civil court. Indeed, distracted drivers who cause accidents and injuries can be held financially accountable for the medical costs, pain and suffering and other damages that arise from their negligent behavior. Similarly, wrongful death claims may also arise from negligent activity like texting and driving when a fatal accident results.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Texting And Driving Bans Linked To Fewer Car Fatalities, Study Finds", Sanna Chu, July 28, 2014

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