Print 17 comment(s) - last by iceolate.. on Feb 11 at 3:58 PM

Study finds the more people there are around you if you are distracted you more likely to crash

Many states around the country have put bans on using handheld cell phones while driving on the books. The goal of these laws is to reduce the number of distractions while driving in the hopes of reducing the number of traffic accidents. 

Many states have also enacted bans on texting while driving in addition to talking on a handheld phone while driving. The states with the bans in place do still allow the driver to use hands free devices to talk while driving. A recent study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute found that bans on driving while talking on a handheld phone didn't reduce the accident rates in areas where the bans were enacted.

Adrian Lund, president of both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and HLDI, said about the study, "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."

The study didn’t pinpoint a reason for why a reduction in accident's hadn't been seen in most areas, but speculation was that perhaps using a hands free device was just as distracting as talking on a handheld phone while driving. The study did point out that a reduction in accidents was noted after the ban on handheld phones in New York, but the reduction had begun before the ban was enacted.

new study has been conducted by Sheldon H. Jacobson, a professor of computer science and director of the simulation and optimization laboratory at the University of Illinois. The study looked at the relationship between pre and post ban auto accidents using data from 62 counties. Jacobson and his co-researchers published their study in a coming issue of a journal called Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice.

Looking at the data the researchers found that after the bans were enacted 46 of the 62 counties in the study saw a reduction in the number of fatal accidents and ten of the counties showed a statistically significant level of accident reduction. The study also showed that the number of accidents after bans dropped was larger in counties like New York, Bronx, and Queens where the population was higher than it was in rural areas of New York.

Jacobson said, "What that suggests is, if you have a congestion of cars and you’re distracted, you’re more likely to hit someone. If you have a lower congestion of cars, you’re still distracted, but you’re less likely to hit anyone because there are less people to hit. It’s simple probability." 

The study performed by Jacobson and his team is different from other studies on the topic in that  it analyzed publicly available data on accident rates published by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. The study uses pre ban period of 1997 to 2001 and post ban period of 2002 to 2007 for its comparisons. New York has had a hand held phone ban in place since 2001. The researchers do acknowledge that their data could be skewed by driver education programs and things like major storms and road construction that could increase accident rates.

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They just don't "get it"
By FXi on 2/10/2010 5:12:18 PM , Rating: 1
When people have a crash they'll blame anything BUT themselves. They blame the dog, the kids, the other people on the road or that they were driving into the sun. Guess what! They'll blame the cell phone too. So you get the "study" that says that cellphone use contributes to accidents because that's what they blame.

So you then make laws against using cellphones. And guess what? That doesn't change the accidents, because THAT wasn't the problem. The studies indicating that it IS the problem will never, ever be able to filter through the blame syndrome enough to ever tell whether it causes a problem or not.

For decades people have been driving while doing a whole lot of things that are even more distracting than a cellphone. Remember folks drinking from cans and as the they tilt their head back to take those last few sips, do you think they see the road? Lots of things have been going on for a lot longer and banning them won't fix it either. People have accidents because of a lot of bad driving occurs. Looking down at the radio or flipping CD's in and out of a changer can easily divert your attention for far longer than a cellphone.

Too much faith in "studies" and not enough time in the real world using common sense.

RE: They just don't "get it"
By lightfoot on 2/10/2010 5:34:12 PM , Rating: 2
You make an interesting point, but you must realize that any person who is blaming their cell-phone is actually accepting fault for the accident. It seems highly unlikely that they would willingly do so if it were not the truth. If they were intentionally trying to shift blame, the more likely scenario would be to blame an external factor that they have no control over.

Saying that the accident happened because "I was checking my voice mail" is roughly the same as saying "I caused the accident because I was busy doing something else." The excuse doesn't matter, and may only make things worse.

RE: They just don't "get it"
By mindless1 on 2/10/2010 8:04:59 PM , Rating: 2
True, other distractions cause accidents too, BUT no other singular activity is as ubiquitous as cellphone talking or texting.

However, I think you are totally wrong that drinking a beverage is as distracting as using a cellphone. I can drink a beverage without ever taking my eyes off the road (my alien race has a unique feature, eyeballs that pivot up/down/left/right).

RE: They just don't "get it"
By iceolate on 2/11/2010 3:58:08 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that people could be distracted by numerous things, and you simply can't ban every possible distraction, nor thoroughly enforce those that are already banned.

Otherwise you'd have stupid laws like banning drinking beverages from cans and bottles while driving, unless the driver is using a straw.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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