Many laws are enacted because: A). They cost nothing to implement, and B). Shows that your legislature is hard at work. I would include those “Drug Free School Zones” in these types of laws.
Will banning texting work? Not directly. Most people think of themselves as excellent drivers and think that they can handle the texting and driving at the same time. It might come into play with accidents, but it might be hard to prove.
Many times while I’m driving, I ask my wife or my sons to answer my cellphone. Or reply to a text message I got. If I got into an accident and you subpoenaed my records, I would simply state the truth: the other person in the car was on my phone and not me.
The other problem is that you could do a bit of time shifting. I was on the phone, got into an accident at 1:03pm. Records showed I was on the phone at 1:03pm, but I claim the accident really happened at 1:01pm when I was not on the phone, and I was simply calling my friend to tell them I was in an accident.
What is required is a social shift much like what happened with cigarettes and car seatbelts. Each of these had years of public service announcements telling people the dangers of smoking or not wearing seatbelts and for years, people simply ignored them.
What happened was a social change: People started asking you to wear your seatbelts when you drove with them. People told you not to smoke with them around. Part of this was due to the PSAs. Part of it was due to various new laws. But, most of it simply took a tipping point where it became less and less okay to smoke in public, or to drive without your seatbelts on.
I suspect we’re going to start seeing a similar social shift. The laws will help. The stories of accidents where people were killed because someone was busy texting will become more prevalent. People will tell other people to put the phone down while driving. Movies and TV shows will make texting while driving look stupid.
So, the laws won’t help in a strict sense, but they are helping drive public debate. The newspaper stories also help, and so do public discussion boards like this. Sooner or later, people will stop texting while driving because it will be socially unacceptable.