A new study measures whether there are fewer crashes after states ban cell phone use while driving.
The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) research shows no significant drop in crashes related to hand-held cell phone use.
HLDI compared insurance claims for crash damage in New York, Washington DC, Connecticut and California before and after their bans took effect with nearby control states without bans.
Previous studies show hand-held phone use declines when states enact bans and that phoning while driving increases crash risk. So, you’d think there would be a decrease in crashes.
Talk about a disconnect.
“We’re currently gathering data to figure out this mismatch,” said Adrian Lund, HLDI president.
Lund says one factor that might be eroding the effects of hand-held phone bans on crashes is that many drivers switch to hands-free phones. Studies show that the crash risk doesn’t decrease with hands-free devices compared to held-held ones.
No states have blanket bans on use of hands-free devices, but 21 states and Washington DC prohibit beginning drivers from using any type of phone, including hands-free. Those bans are difficult to enforce. In North Carolina, its teenage driver ban on cell phones didn’t curtail phone use.
The U.S. Department of Transportation recently banned texting while driving for commercial drivers of large trucks and buses.
Should states continue to enact bans on using hand-held phones while driving? Should the bans include hands-free phones, too? Should government stay out of it and allow businesses to make their own decisions for employees who drive as part of their jobs? Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below.