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Distracted Driving Laws Tied to Fewer Teen Crash Fatalities

Texting, handheld phone bans tied to fewer motor vehicle crash deaths involving drivers aged 16 to 19

FRIDAY, May 15, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Distracted driving laws within the United States help reduce fatalities for teenagers, according to a study published online May 15 in Pediatrics.

Michael R. Flaherty, D.O., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues used data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System to identify fatal motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) from 2007 to 2017 in the United States involving 38,215 drivers ages 16 to 19 years old.

The researchers found that the incidence of fatal MVCs was highest for 19-year-old drivers (27.2 out of 100,000 19-year-old persons) and lowest for 16-year-olds (10.7 out of 100,000 16-year-old persons). The number of states with any type of distracted driving law increased from 15 to 47 during the study period. During these same years, rates of fatal MVCs involving 16- to 19-year-old drivers decreased by nearly a third. Lower MVC fatality rates were seen in states with primarily enforced texting bans (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 0.71). Across age groups, texting bans and handheld bans for all drivers were associated with decreased MVC fatalities.

“Adoption of universal handheld cellphone bans in all states may reduce the incidence of distracted driving and decrease MVC fatalities,” the authors write.

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