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Cellphone laws save motorcyclists' lives

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Jan. 29, 2019—If you follow cellphone laws while driving, you're helping to make America's streets safer for motorcyclists, a new study suggests.

The study is based on yearly crash data. From 2005 to 2015, it found up to 11 percent fewer deadly motorcycle crashes in states that ban or limit cellphone use behind the wheel, compared to states without such bans.

The reason? The researchers don't think the drop is due to a change in motorcyclists' driving behaviors. Instead, they think no-texting and other cellphone laws have made automobile drivers safer.

Distracted driving dangers

Texting or using a cellphone while driving can distract drivers' attention from the road. This may make accidents more likely. More than 1,000 people are injured and about nine are killed on roadways every day because of distracted driving.

And motorcyclists are disproportionately affected when it comes to fatal crashes in general. So they may stand to benefit more from cellphone laws designed to make roadways safer.

Some states ban texting or using a cellphone while driving or have laws that limit the use of cellphones to hands-free devices. Some cities and other local governments have similar rules.

We don't yet know if such laws have led to fewer overall traffic deaths (including driver, passenger and pedestrian deaths). But this study suggests they're working when it comes to preventing motorcycle crash deaths, according to the researchers. They hope lawmakers will consider even tougher laws around cellphone use while driving.

The study appears in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

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This information is provided for educational purposes only. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare providers regarding medical care or treatment, as recommendations, services or resources are not a substitute for the advice or recommendation of an individual's physician or healthcare provider. Services or treatment options may not be covered under an individual's particular health plan.