Study: Cell Phone Bans Don’t Reduce Crash Rate

Feb 04, 2010

It is a fact that cell phones are a major contributor to distracted driving, a major cause of traffic accidents.  But now a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute has found no reductions in crashes after the enactment of statewide bans on hand-held phones behind the wheel.

Comparing insurance claims for crash damage in four U.S. jurisdictions before and after such bans, the researchers found steady claim rates compared with nearby jurisdictions without such bans. The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) is an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Month-to-month fluctuations in rates of collision claims in jurisdictions with bans didn’t change from before to after the laws were enacted. Nor did the patterns change in comparison with trends in jurisdictions that didn’t have such laws.

“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,” said Adrian Lund, president of both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and HLDI. 

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia prohibit beginning drivers from using any type of phone, including hands-free, but such laws are difficult to enforce. This was the finding in North Carolina, where teenage drivers didn’t curtail phone use in response to a ban, in part because they didn’t think the law was being enforced.

“Whatever the reason, the key finding is that crashes aren’t going down where hand-held phone use has been banned,” Lund said. “This finding doesn’t auger well for any safety payoff from all the new laws that ban phone use and texting while driving.” 

For more information on this study, read the full article over at Automotive Fleet.

Photo courtesy of under the Creative Commons License