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Texting And Unintended Consequences

From time to time, I throw up a post about unintended consequences because it nicely illustrates the limits and problems with government action. This should always be kept in mind whenever I or anyone else advocates for any particular policy from the state. Although, recognizing that unintended consequences follow from almost every policy (the larger the more potential unintended consequences) shouldn’t paralyze us. The status quo’s consequences might just be worse than any result of the policy. Yet, it should humble us and remind us to pursue as minimal intervention as possible to correct any negative externality.

In Massachusetts a texting ban while driving will soon go into effect. But the a recent study found texting bans making things worse.

Researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute compared rates of collision insurance claims in four states — California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington — before and after they enacted texting bans. Crash rates rose in three of the states after bans were enacted.

The Highway Loss group theorizes that drivers try to evade police by lowering their phones when texting, increasing the risk by taking their eyes even further from the road and for a longer time.

Another reminder that having empirical data to back one’s case, not just good intentions, can lead to better policy and better outcomes.

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