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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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Laws aren't reducing accidents...
By thekdub on 1/29/2010 10:45:10 AM , Rating: 5
...because police aren't enforcing the law, or rather can't enforce the law because in most jurisdictions this is only a secondary offense.

I live in Ohio, where talking/texting while driving is indeed against the law, and yet I've seen people talking on their phones in front of me as we both drive past a police cruiser doing radar on the side of the road. I cannot begin to count the number of times that I have nearly been hit or run off the road because the other driver was paying too much attention to his/her phone conversation and not the road.

IMO, cell phone use while driving needs to be a primary offense that you can be pulled over for, not a secondary offense tacked on after you get pulled over for something else. Points on the license and a hefty fine, otherwise people will never change and will continue to endanger the lives of those around them.




By SocrPlyr on 1/29/2010 12:31:10 PM , Rating: 2
There is no state law in Ohio banning cell phone use while driving. However, localities have the ability to enact such bans. The vast majority of Ohio has no bans in place. This is as of the beginning of this month. I haven't paid any attention, but there are several bills being considered that would limit or prohibit use. None have been passed and if they have been since I last checked they would not be valid yet. (Almost all laws have a period before they go into affect.) Thus your rant about the police was most likely err.


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