Distracted Driving: A WTOL11 investigation

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) – Ohio Governor John Kasich is expected to sign a law outlawing text messaging while driving as early as Friday.

According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, there were more than 31,000 distracted driving deaths in the state between 2009 and 2011.  Those accidents resulted in over 7,800 injuries and 74 deaths.

Proponents of the law say outlawing the practice will keep drivers safer, but data on the subject tells a different story.

"What we found in the study is the texting laws don't reduce crashes," said Russ Rader with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The institute conducted the only large-scale study of the effect of texting while driving bans.

"There was not only no reduction in crashes in the states that had texting laws as opposed to the ones that didn't, there was actually an increase," said Rader.

While laws may not be the solution to the texting and driving problem, technology may be.

"Providing this technology will substantially reduce the number of crashes," said Paul Green, a research professor at the University of Michigan. "Basically [the vehicle will] sense that you're closing on a vehicle ahead of you, and if you don't respond in time, they automatically apply the brakes."

The technology is already available in several luxury cars, and Green says it could be standard in all cars within three to five years.

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