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
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.
real question in many minds is, are the bans effective? According to
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.
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
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.
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
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.