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Claim Frequency in New York  (Source: HLDI Study)

Claim Frequency in DC  (Source: HLDI Study)
Study shows accident rates are the same in most areas before and after cell phone bans

All around the country there have been bans going into effect to make driving while talking on a handheld phone illegal. Many states and cities have also made it illegal to text and drive. The reason for the bans were that studies found driving while talking on the phone or texting made drivers much more likely to be in an accident.

Many wondered about how effective the bans would be, particularly among some of the more at risk groups like teen drivers. In December 2009, a teen interviewed by Reuters said that most drivers, especially teen drivers, would simply ignore the bans and continue to text and drive and talk and drive. In states where the bans are in effect police are ticketing people for talking on hand held phones while driving. However, law enforcement officers note that catching a driver texting is very difficult.

Some lawmakers are calling for nationwide bans on texting while driving. There are already national laws against texting and driving for federal employees and this week a new ban was announced that would prohibit bus and big rig drivers from texting while driving. The ban would impose a hefty $2,750 fine on drivers caught violating the ban.

The real question in many minds is, are the bans effective? According to a new study released by the Highway Loss Data Institute laws banning the use of cell phones while driving in the majority of areas where they are enacted have failed to reduce crashes.

"The laws aren't reducing crashes, even though we know that such laws have reduced hand-held phone use, and several studies have established that phoning while driving increases crash risk," says Adrian Lund, president of both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and HLDI.

Researchers at the HLDI calculated the monthly insurance claims per 100 insured vehicle years. A vehicle year is one car insured for one year, two cars insured for six months, and so on. The study looked at cars up to three years old over the months right before and after the cell phone bans were enacted. The study specifically looked at New York, DC, Connecticut, and California. Areas near those with bans in effect, but having no talking and driving bans in place were used for comparison.

The study points out that the reduction in the number of drivers that talk on a handheld phone after the bans is very significant, yet a reduction in accidents is not being seen with the exception of New York where a reduction in accidents was noted. However, the reductions in New York began before the bans were enacted.

"So the new findings don't match what we already know about the risk of phoning and texting while driving," Lund points out. "If crash risk increases with phone use and fewer drivers use phones where it's illegal to do so, we would expect to see a decrease in crashes. But we aren't seeing it. Nor do we see collision claim increases before the phone bans took effect. This is surprising, too, given what we know about the growing use of cell phones and the risk of phoning while driving. We're currently gathering data to figure out this mismatch."

The exact reason why the reduction in drivers using hand held phone and driving hasn't resulted in a reduced number of accidents is being studied. HLDI researchers suggest that it may be because the drivers switched to hands free phones and that talking on a hands free device is just as distracting as talking on a hand held device. In short, the bans on talking on hand held phones and driving are not making the roads any safer.

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Am I looking at the graph wrong ?
By Reclaimer77 on 1/29/2010 10:19:07 AM , Rating: 5
Or is this massive ban causing problem totaling a 'whopping' 15-20 accidents per month ?

The way these people talk about it, you would think it was the new plague of our time or something. Killing off people at a rapid pace.

I'm shocked that these idiots are still shocked that passing unenforceable law after unenforceable doesn't lead to a reduction in whatever behavior they are trying to curb. I guess the only thing we learn from history is that we DON'T learn from history...

RE: Am I looking at the graph wrong ?
By Denigrate on 1/29/2010 10:22:05 AM , Rating: 3
What we really need is a driving test that measure's a person's attention span. This is really the main cause of accidents. Though I must say, people who text while driving are a whole different class of moron.

RE: Am I looking at the graph wrong ?
By Gio6518 on 1/29/2010 10:39:50 AM , Rating: 1
banning the use of cell phones while driving in the majority of areas where they are enacted have failed to reduce crashes

What we really need is a driving test that measure's a person's attention span

you got it, those people will play with the radio, stare at a billboard, a cow grazing whatever it may be..........some people are just plain dangerous drivers.

By quiksilvr on 1/30/2010 4:46:06 PM , Rating: 2
That won't change anything. People will just drive super safe on their test and then continue to drive like morons later. Today's driving test needs to be much more stringent. Have multiple tests. Have a closed course to practice on as well.

Furthermore, don't give licenses to hormonal teenagers. Let them have permits at 16 and give them an official license at 18.

RE: Am I looking at the graph wrong ?
By invidious on 1/29/10, Rating: -1
RE: Am I looking at the graph wrong ?
By Denigrate on 1/29/2010 10:46:12 AM , Rating: 3
Government already makes a decision on who can drive based off of your first driving test with the practical as well as the written. So your argument does not hold water. Besides, driving is a privaledge, not a right.

RE: Am I looking at the graph wrong ?
By Samus on 1/29/2010 12:31:20 PM , Rating: 2
I drive in Chicago all the time and when you consider over 1 million people commute daily by vehicle, it's amazing there are as few accidents as there are. Sure, I see them all the time, but only a few times a year do I see accidents that I'd consider life-threatening.

RE: Am I looking at the graph wrong ?
By nosfed360 on 1/29/2010 2:22:12 PM , Rating: 3
That's not entirely accurate.

Driving on a PUBLIC road is not a privaledge, driving in general would be covered under personal freedom.

I could let my 10 year old drive around my private yard, or private road all day and the police can't do anything about it.

RE: Am I looking at the graph wrong ?
By nosfed360 on 1/29/2010 2:23:32 PM , Rating: 2
obviously that first sentence was supposed to say "IS a privaledge" hate not having an edit button.

By callmeroy on 1/29/2010 2:48:10 PM , Rating: 1
Well if you want to knit pick about that technically you still can't even in your example....

Let's follow the logic throught...

The reason it is a privilege is largely for safety reasons since of course the road isn't made for JUST you or JUST me, but everyone (with a valid license).

Your 10 y/o being able to drive on your private properly is allowed because its your property and chances are unless you are dense you aren't allowing your 10 y/o to drive close to an actual public roadway where everyone can see you or risk hitting someone on the public roadway.

HOWEVER, as a legal guardian/parent even if on your private property - your 10 y/o had a tragedy (God forbid) accident that injured killed him/her and/or someone else -- you can damn well be sure one of things you'd be charged with in the lawsuit would be allowing an minor to operate a motor vehicle....

The fact of that law still applying is saying you technically ARE still not "allowed" to let your 10 y/o drive on your private property.

...its just (especially in today's society) on private property these days its a "out of sight out of mind" mentality most people have.

RE: Am I looking at the graph wrong ?
By porkpie on 1/29/2010 2:43:51 PM , Rating: 1
"I could let my 10 year old drive around my private yard, or private road all day and the police can't do anything about it. "

Actually if you tried that, you'd be arrested for felony child endangerment within the hour.

By callmeroy on 1/29/2010 3:02:50 PM , Rating: 2
yep that too...

RE: Am I looking at the graph wrong ?
By porkpie on 1/29/2010 12:29:37 PM , Rating: 1
"What we really need is a driving test that measure's a person's attention span. "

No. What we really need is an "Apollo Program" style investment in automated driving techology, that would give us self-piloting cars within a decade, and virtually eliminate auto accidents as a source of death (not to mention saving tens of billions annually on damage losses)

Since the invention of the auto, over 10,000,000 people worldwide have died from traffic accidents. There's been cases where we've spent billions on an environmental cleanup thats predicted to possibly save 5-10 lives through reduced cancer rates...but the government won't fund a program that would save a million times that many?

RE: Am I looking at the graph wrong ?
By thepalinator on 1/29/10, Rating: 0
RE: Am I looking at the graph wrong ?
By TheEinstein on 1/29/2010 4:56:06 PM , Rating: 2
This technology exists already... DARPA has been putting out contests for a number of years.

The first was to pass a prepared route, via automation, with nothing but the route being in the way.

The first year none passed. The second most were able to pass.

The second test was to identify signs even if obscured a bit. Successfully passed

Last I heard, and probably where they are being quiet on how successful the vehicles were... in city driving. This was a year and a half ago the test was supposed to occur.

The in city driving is obeying traffic laws, navigating traffic, from point A to point B.

RE: Am I looking at the graph wrong ?
By porkpie on 1/29/2010 5:36:26 PM , Rating: 2
I'm aware of the DARPA challenges. But the existing technology costs several hundred thousand dollars per vehicle, and adds so much bulk to the vehicle it winds up looking like a stuffed sausage. What we need is a cheap, foolproof, miniaturized version.

By TheEinstein on 1/29/2010 9:08:23 PM , Rating: 2
Actually the shrinking of the stuff is going to be the easier part.

The harder part is going to be societies acceptance.

IN all the cameras can be replaced with smaller lighter versions, the other equipment... also can be replaced with such, in production instead of in a prototype many such things get better placement, are reduced in size and weight.

Honestly I would not be surprised if the kit would only cost about $10,000 or so in the end.

RE: Am I looking at the graph wrong ?
By Flunk on 1/29/2010 12:33:08 PM , Rating: 4
I wholeheartedly agree. It's exactly the same sort of moron who drives and texts who ignores laws against it and also is distracted by shiney things.

By JediJeb on 1/29/2010 2:46:37 PM , Rating: 5
Maybe the reason they see no corrolation is because the people who drive poorly when doing such activities are the same ones who ignore the laws, while the people who are skilled enough to drive carefully while talking on the phone are also the ones who will adhere to the laws.

RE: Am I looking at the graph wrong ?
By rikulus on 1/29/2010 11:09:29 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, they should really label the graph, as the Y axis is probably 1000's of accidents, not numbers of accidents. There are about 6 million accidents per year in the US, so half a million per month... 15,000 for NY would be about right. Number of automobile accident deaths per year is over 40,000.

RE: Am I looking at the graph wrong ?
By omnicronx on 1/29/2010 12:04:46 PM , Rating: 2
HLDI researchers calculated monthly collision claims per 100 insured vehicle years (a vehicle year is 1 car insured for 1 year, 2 insured for 6 months each, etc.) for vehicles up to 3 years old during the months immediately before and after hand-held phone use was banned
So I would assume the Y axis should be multiplied by 100..

Anyone else find it kind of weird that they base this study off of vehicles 3 years or newer? Of the younger generation, how many fit into this category? Seems like a MAJOR oversight to me...
The HLDI database doesn't identify drivers using cellphones when their crashes occur.
How can you have a study without knowing this? How do they know they are not discounting particular scenarios (such as you know people with vehicles over 3 years old?). You can't just pick a particular set of drivers without identifying whether or not they even account for a large percentage of cell phone based crashes.

The linked article seems less and less credible as I read on, I want my 2 minutes back..

By JediJeb on 1/29/2010 2:49:49 PM , Rating: 2
I agree it is a very limited data set. It also doesn't account for the accidents caused by someone texting and driving forcing someone else off the road while they continue on with no clue what they just did.

By arazok on 1/29/2010 11:22:23 AM , Rating: 1
What we need is a law banning unenforceable laws!

RE: Am I looking at the graph wrong ?
By blowfish on 1/29/2010 2:37:28 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe if you were involved in one of the "small number" of fatalities you might think differently.

If it wasn't for the fact that innocent people get injured by distracted drivers, I'd see it as simple natural selection.

By Reclaimer77 on 1/29/2010 3:49:42 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe if you were involved in one of the "small number" of fatalities you might think differently.

I don't think you understand. There are already laws against reckless driving. This is a law on top of another law that's covering the same thing as the one before it.

Tell me, how is this saving lives ? Even if you are dumb enough to believe it can be enforced, how is this different than reckless driving !?

By foolsgambit11 on 1/30/2010 11:48:28 PM , Rating: 2
My theory is that there were two kinds of people who talked/texted while driving. The kind of people who ignored the ban are the people who were getting into accidents by texting/talking. The kind of people who stopped texting/talking weren't as likely to get into an accident in the first place, possibly because there is a correlation between driving carefully and following the law in general.

At least, that's one explanation of the data.

By mezman on 2/1/2010 2:56:04 PM , Rating: 2
But, but, they FEEL better having imposed their will on a mass of people! If the results come, that's even better, but primarily these laws are little more than an opportunity for activists to impose the will of a minority on the majority.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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