In a conversation over on my cousin’s Facebook wall, I was pointing out that the rate of accidents (And fatalities) per million miles traveled has been steadily declining over the past 20 years or so. With a noteable exception: In 2011 the decline slowed significantly and in 2012 the number went up. (It went back down again in 2013). (ref: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812024.pdf, and http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811755DS.pdf)
Note: The decline occurred concurrent with the increase in texting overall, and almost certainly an increase in texting while driving as well. More texting. Fewer accidents. (And no, I am not suggesting causality here… necessarily. Anyone care to speculate on how causality might be at play here?)
I found a very interesting correlation here. The flattening of the decline corresponds with the *increasing criminalization of texting.* Correlation for sure, but I posit that there may actually be causation: People still text, but “hide” it from the cops, which means putting the phones lower in their laps–forcing their eyes off the road for a longer time. The Law of Unintended Consequences. By the way, one response was that we have declining fatalities due to increased safety hardware such as air bags and seatbelts (and I will add anti-lock brakes.) I would accept that, except we also see a decline in the number of accidents, and reported in the second link above.