States across the nation have banned cellphone use while driving to reduce deadly distracted driving accidents. Many states restrict cellphones to hands-free use or completely ban them while driving. In total, 36 states and Washington D.C. ban any cellphone use by new drivers. Twenty states and Washington D.C. ban all use of hand-held cellphones by drivers. However, while these laws might decrease the amount of cellphone use while driving, some experts are claiming that they do not decrease accidents.
What Research Says
According to a 2009 analysis by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), states with hand-held cellphone bans while driving had no change in the rates of insurance claims. Another 2010 analysis also found that texting bans also failed to change the rate of insurance claims.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has supported enforcement programs in Connecticut and New York. During periods of increased enforcement, observed cellphone users dropped 57 percent in Connecticut and up to 40 percent in New York. However, Adrian Lund, president of HLDI, is not convinced that decreased phone usage reduces accidents.
"NHTSA's study was well-done," Lund commented. "It shows that good enforcement can change driver behavior. However, the question remains, is changing driver behavior enough to affect crash rates?"
HLDI tested the effectiveness of these enforcement periods by looking at reported crashes to insurers in the same areas as the NHTSA-sponsored programs. By looking at claims, HLDI determined that there was no corresponding reduction in crashes.
What Causes Cellphone Bans to Fail?
Analysts believe that cellphone bans might not prevent accidents because they cause people to change how they use their phones. If visible cellphone use can get a driver in trouble, they might choose to use a hands-free system that is still distracting. Research from the National Safety Council has found that hands-free cellphone use is still dangerous.
“While many drivers honestly believe they are making the safe choice by using a hands-free device, it’s just not true,” said NSC senior director David Teater. “The problem is the brain does not truly multi-task. Just like you can’t read a book and talk on the phone, you can’t safely operate a vehicle and talk on the phone. With some state laws focusing on handheld bans and carmakers putting hands-free technology in vehicles, no wonder people are confused.”
Call Arnold & Itkin if You’ve Suffered Because of a Distracted Driver
If you’ve suffered because of a driver who was using their phone and caused an accident, help is available. Arnold & Itkin has won billions of dollars for our clients. Our car accident attorneys have done this through a commitment to justice and never settling for less than our clients deserve. While we can’t prevent distracted drivers from changing lives, we can fight to hold them accountable for doing so.
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