Unintended Consequences of Prohibitions Against Texting While Driving

Individual states across the country are passing laws that prohibit texting while driving. How have these laws fair? Not well, in fact these bans have been followed by an increase in accidents:

It’s perplexing for both police and lawmakers throughout the U.S.: They want to do something about the danger of texting while driving, a major road hazard, but banning the practice seems to make it even more dangerous.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that 3 of every 4 states that have enacted a ban on texting while driving have seen crashes actually go up rather than down.

It’s hard to pin down exactly why this is the case, but experts believe it is a result of people trying to avoid getting caught in states with stiff penalties. Folks trying to keep their phones out of view will often hold the phone much lower, below the wheel perhaps, in order to keep it out of view. That means the driver’s eyes are looking down and away from the road.

One thing statists and other authoritarians never seem to learn is that making a law against something doesn’t stop people from doing it. Theft, murder, smoking marijuana, and tax fraud are all illegal yet people still steal, murder, smoke weed, and commit tax fraud. What happens when a law is passed that prohibits an action is that people keep performing that action but they try to do it in secret. Thieves move to robbing homes during average working hours when the owners are unlikely to be there, murders come up with complex and sometime absurd plots to avoid being caught, producers and consumers of marijuana have created a very successful black market, and people develop ways to shuffle money around in order to confuse the state’s tax collection goons. In the case of texting while driving people are more apt to hold their cell phone lower, which will entirely remove their eyes from the road and thus increase the chances they’ll get into an accident.