Study Suggests Cell Phone Bans Don’t Lower Crash Rates

States are increasingly adopting laws that ban the use of cell phones while behind the wheel, but a recent study suggests such bans may not be that effective at curtailing accidents.

The Highway Loss Data Institute (associated with the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety) studied crash data from California, New York, Connecticut, and Washington, states that all recently made the use of hand-held phones while driving illegal. While the bans should theoretically reduce the risk of distracted driving and reduce accidents, the numbers say other wise.

“We were looking for that, and we aren’t seeing that pattern,” Adrian Lund, president of the HLDS, told The New York Times. “We can’t even see a blip in the data for crashes.”

Prior studies suggested cell phone users were up to four times as likely to be involved in a crash. While some of those drivers may have put the phone at bay (the HLDS says these states saw a 76-percent drop in usage), there’s a possibility that drivers may have found distraction elsewhere in the vehicle. Navigation systems, radios, MP3 players, cargo, and other passengers can all distract a driver from the road ahead. Another possibility? Drivers may simply be switching to hands-free phone use, which is suggested to be as distracting as using a hand-held cell phone.

Regardless, we’ll stick to what our parents taught us: Keep our eyes on the road, and our hands on the wheel…

Source: The New York Times