Shocker: Laws Banning Cell Phone Use In Cars Aren’t Actually Making Roads Safer
Much like the anti-bullying campaigns, the war on distracted driving has become a bit of a political fad in recent years. Oprah even launched a campaign, in partnership with the federal government, to promote laws banning cell phone use in cars.
I’ve pointed out again and again that there’s no evidence that these laws actually reduce distracted driving. I’ve pointed out that other things, such as eating and drinking in the car, cause much more distracted driving than cell phones. I even pointed out that, despite the rise of electronics like GPS units, MP3 players and cell phones, national traffic accident and fatality rates are at some of their lowest levels ever recorded.
That’s right, despite more distractions in our cars, our roads are actually getting safer.
At the Grand Forks Herald (which was oddly silent on this issue back when the state legislature was passing our own version of a ban on texting while driving), they’ve finally seen past the big government campaigns to the real data.
…while a number of states have passed such laws, available research suggests they might not work. That’s especially true in the case of laws banning the use of hand-held phones: “As state legislators across the United States enact laws banning cellphone use while driving, a new Highway Loss Data Institute study finds no reductions in crashes after hand-held phone bans take effect,” according to a 2010 news account.
“The study reviewed insurance claims from crashes before and after these bans took effect in California, New York, Connecticut and Washington, D.C.
“The study concluded that accident rates did not drop after the laws were set in motion.”
As researcher Adrian Lund wrote, “The laws aren’t reducing crashes. … Nor do we see collision claim increases before the phone bans took effect. This is surprising, too, given what we know about the growing use of cell phones and the risk of phoning while driving.
“We’re currently gathering data to figure out this mismatch,” says Lund, president of both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and HLDI.
But “whatever the reason, the key finding is that crashes aren’t going down where hand-held phone use has been banned. This finding doesn’t auger well for any safety payoff from all the new laws that ban phone use and texting while driving.”
Those are striking conclusions — and they’re not alone. Here’s a quote from the conclusion of another Highway Loss Data Institute study: “Insurance collision loss experience does not indicate a decline in crash risk when texting laws are enacted.
“Rather, there appears to have been a small increase in claims in the states enacting texting bans, compared to neighboring states.”
It’s worth noting that the Grand Forks city ordinance against texting while driving hasn’t exactly had a major impact either. Some might call it a waste of time.
We all want safer roads, but these laws don’t work. Driving recklessly, by the way, is already illegal and has been for some time. Layering on more laws isn’t going to make our roads safer. It’s only going to make things more complicated for enforcement officials.Tags: distracted driving, nanny statism, texting while driving