Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cell Phone Bans Don't Reduce Accidents

Cell Phone DrivingImage by Will Merydith via Flickr
More and more jurisdictions across the country are implementing bans on using cell phones.  On the whole, I am against these bans and have talked about it here and here.  The main reason that I am opposed to banning hand held cell phones is that I believe that existing reckless driving laws cover cell phones. If you cause an accident, you are at fault, whether it was caused by using a cell phone or some other distraction.

A recent report issued by the Highway Loss Data Institute shows that in those states that have banned the use of hand held cell phones, there has been no impact on the number of accidents.  The studies do show that the use of hand held devices has declined in those states.  The study cites that the reason for the lack of decline is that even with hands free devices a driver can become distracted by just the act of carrying on a conversation.

I don't know if the release of this study makes me feel any more justified in my belief that banning of cell phones isn't necessary.  I do know that when I am driving that if I do come upon a driver not keeping up with traffic they usually have a phone up to their ear.  So now there are some that are even calling for the ban of any cell phone, even with hands free devices. 

Where does it end? There are a number of things that can distract a driver whether it is eating or drinking, using a cell phone, trying to read a map, or putting on makeup.  Having your kids in the car can distract drivers, especially if they are arguing.  Are we going to get to the point where we are going to ban every activity that could possibly distract a driver?  Let's take out the radio and CD player.  No more GPS devices.  Do we have to have the government telling us everything we can and can not do?    
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