Accidents caused by distracted drivers killed 3,331 people and injured 387,000 more across the country in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the main cause of those distractions is a phone.
The UAB study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, said 31 percent of drivers aged 18 to 64 had read or sent text or email messages while driving at least once in the 30 days prior to the study.
But the study found that states that have enacted laws completely banning texting-while-driving for all age groups are saving lives, according to head researcher Alva Ferdinand.
"Our results indicated that primary texting bans were significantly associated with a 3 percent reduction in traffic fatalities among all age groups, which equates to an average of 19 deaths prevented per year in states with such bans,” Ferdinand said. “Primarily enforced texting laws that banned only young drivers from texting were the most effective at reducing deaths among the 15- to 21-year-old cohort, with an associated 11 percent reduction in traffic fatalities among this age group in states with such bans.”
The study found that states with secondarily enforced restrictions did not see any significant reductions in traffic fatalities.
Ferdinand also says that these statistics could aid policy makers in improving roadway safety because they indicate the types of laws that are most effective in reducing deaths among various age groups, as well as those in states with secondarily enforced texting bans advocating for stricter texting-while-driving bans.