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Will stricter texting and driving laws make roads safer?

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) released a study that reveals nine states enacting stricter texting while driving laws. While individual legislation is unique to each state, the overall goal is to strengthen enforcement and increase penalties and fines while emphasizing education and awareness.

Oklahoma has joined states throughout the country that furthers the fight against a dangerous, deadly and ever-growing trend. All legislation places a particular emphasis on teenage drivers.

Oklahoma and two other states focused on enacting laws that protect teen drivers. The Sooner State now mandates that all driver education courses have an educational component covering the risks posed by texting and driving. Arizona banned teenagers with learner’s permits from driving while using a wireless communication device. Tennessee now prohibits the use of handheld devices in school loans.

Iowa is now a primary enforcement state with some of the strongest laws in the country. Police no longer have to witness a different driving infraction before pulling a texting driver over.

Laws in Washington and Arkansas expanded the definition of distracted driving that keeps up with new behaviors that make roads deadlier. Their laws include other distractions caused by social media sites (Facebook and Instagram) and online video channels (YouTube and Netflix).

Arkansas, District of Columbia, North Dakota and Washington are going after the wallets of texting drivers. Fines for distracted driving are significantly on the rise. In Arkansas, first-time offenders will be up to $250 with repeat offenders paying $500. Those fines double if a crash occurred.

PCI cites a 14 percent spike in traffic fatalities over the past two years, representing the largest increase in more than 50 years. Their findings reveal that while most states have laws in place that restrict texting while driving, more needs to be done. New laws and increased public awareness can create a culture of personal responsibility.

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