I guess we’re all aware of the wave of texting while driving legislation, as well as recent moves in a number of jurisdictions to make the penalties more draconian. And it seems like a reasonable supposition that such legislation would reduce the incidence of accidents doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, it appears that the laws have the exact opposite effect. A comparative study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute in the US compared accident rates between states that did and did not implement texting laws, and found that accident rates increased in the states which implemented the legislation.
…bans haven’t reduced crashes at all. In a perverse twist, crashes increased in 3 of the 4 states we studied after bans were enacted. It’s an indication that texting bans might even increase the risk of texting for drivers who continue to do so despite the laws.
Adrian Lund, president HLDI
What’s interesting about this example is that here we’re trying to control a human/technological system in a simplistic fashion that overlooks the adaptive nature of said system, resulting in completely contrary results to those intended.
An NRMA survey last month found 91 per cent of drivers admitted to texting or reading emails, half updated Facebook and played games, and 76 per cent took photos behind the wheel.
Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Oct 2013
Unfortunately the legislators in NSW, my home patch, still figure that if the original law isn’t working, then more of the same ought to, including further extensions to police powers of search and seizure. I look forward to the increased accident rate. When we legislate for safety it seems the law of unintended consequences is one that is not just inevitably passed but also inevitably compounded.