Texting Zones in Mississippi? The Newest Attempt to Combat Texting While Driving

Local governments across the country have worked diligently in recent years to combat the epidemic problem of texting and driving.  Despite bans on texting while driving in 41 states and the District of Columbia, as well as total bans on the use of handheld mobile devices while driving in 11 states and the District of Columbia, the rate of individuals who text and drive is still at an all-time high.  With the ever-expanding mobile technology and newer, more efficient smartphones, the lure of texting, emailing, or surfing the web while driving is just too great for some drivers.

Numerous studies have called into question the efficacy of texting while driving bans.  The Highway Loss Data Institute focused on four states with texting bans enacted- California, Minnesota, Washington, and Louisiana.  The study found that laws prohibiting texting while driving did not curb insurance claims related to accidents, and, in fact, claims had actually increased in three of those states.  Additionally, crashes among young drivers, the group most often blamed for the increase in distracted driving, rose in all four states.

Currently, Mississippi has only a limited ban on texting while driving.  Mississippi bans school bus drivers and new drivers from texting while driving.  However, the ban seems to have had little effect on texting amongst teen drivers.  Mississippi is considered the third deadliest state in the country for teen drivers, and texting is one of the foremost causes of accidents involving teen drivers.

Research suggests that many drivers simply shrug off such bans.  In fact, 45% of 18-24 year olds in states in which texting while driving is banned nonetheless admitted to engaging in this dangerous activity when behind the wheel.  This is just three points below the 48% that admitted to texting while driving in states that do not have such bans in place.  Other critics of the bans urge that enforcement is difficult– texters may just act more surreptitious, holding their phones down lower so officers cannot see that they are texting.

With the above in mind, New York is taking its war on texting while driving one step further through the introduction of new “texting zones.”  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced texting zones to New York’s highways just this week.  Texting zones function essentially like rest stops.  Rest stops offer weary travelers the opportunity to stretch their legs, use the restroom, and grab a snack, so that they can resume their travels alert and undistracted.  Similarly, texting zones allow those hardcore texters to stop their vehicles in a safe location, send out their texts or emails, and resume their travel undistracted.

New York has created 91 new texting zones, and drivers will be alerted by 298 signs placed strategically across the highway.  Governor Cuomo stated that the new texting zones, drivers truly have no excuse to text and drive as they need only wait till the next text zone to safely conduct their mobile business.

New York is the first state to create such “text zones,” and it will be interesting to see if other states, including Mississippi, follow suit.  Texting while driving is an enormous problem throughout the U.S., causing over 1.6 million accidents per year, and over 3,300 fatalities a year.  With so much damage and loss caused by distracted drivers, it is clear a solution to the problem is urgently needed.  Given the questionable positive impact of texting bans, perhaps novel concepts like New York’s text zones will be the measure needed in Mississippi and other states nationwide to curb texting and driving.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, call Jackson Mississippi auto accident attorney John Giddens today at 601-355-2022.  Our consultation and case analysis is free and we often operate on a contingency basis, so there will be no upfront cost to you.  We will investigate your accident fully and obtain phone records to determine if the driver who harmed you was texting while driving.  Call today to start us fighting for your recovery.