Cellphone Bans While Driving Don't Reduce Accidents

Accident rates didn't go down in regions with cellphone bans

By Scott Weber
|  Friday, Jan 29, 2010  |  Updated 3:55 PM PDT
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Cellphone Bans While Driving Don't Reduce Accidents

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You would think laws banning cell phone use make us safer. Maybe not says the Highway Loss Data Institute.

A new study published by the organization disputes the conventional belief that cell phone use while driving leads to more accidents.

HLDI researchers calculated monthly collision claims during the months immediately before and after hand-held phone use was banned while driving in several regions including New York and California.

The results? The collision claims in jurisdictions with bans didn't change from before to after the laws were enacted. In fact, the crash rates were about the same as jurisdictions that didn't have such laws, according to HLDI.

"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," Adrian Lund, president of both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and HLDI, said in a statement.

"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," he said.

Lund suggested that the laws may not have the intended effect since drivers simply switch to hands-free devices and may still be distracted.

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