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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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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...

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