Most Texting Road Violations Come From Older Drivers

North Carolina imposed a ban on texting while driving last year. It turns out, it’s not teenagers who are the biggest culprits. An analysis of texting violations by the Associated Press revealed that the average age was 28 and the median was 26 among the 1,200 drivers cited under the law.

Of course, these data say nothing of the millions of times phones were used safely on the roads. AAA found that 39 percent of drivers admitted to texting on the road. Clearly, only a tiny minority resulted in accidents or injuries.

Nevertheless, the violations data is reinforcing efforts to ban the use of phones in cars altogether, ignoring the fact the real issue should be how the technology is used. Phones can be used in a wide range of circumstances on the road, some more safe than others, even while driving. Moreover, the capacity of individual drivers to use the technology safely varies greatly. The focus of regulatory efforts should be on the safe use of the technology, not outright bans.

Samuel R. Staley, Ph.D. is a senior research fellow at Reason Foundation and managing director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University in Tallahassee where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in urban planning, regulation, and urban economics. Prior to joining Florida State, Staley was director of urban growth and land-use policy for Reason Foundation where he helped establish its urban policy program in 1997.