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Highway Loss Data Institute: Cell Phone Bans Don’t Reduce Crashes

Posted in General, Newsworthy, Press Release by Kurt Ernst | January 29th, 2010 | 4 Responses |

cell phone driver

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) have determined that laws banning the use of handheld cell phones while driving do not reduce crash rates (press release here). Rather than utilizing real world accident data, the HLDI researchers studied “reductions in observed phone use following bans” to determine what the anticipated reduction in accidents should be. Presumably, by their math, observing 30% fewer drivers on handheld cell phones should produce 30% fewer accidents.

What-the-everloving-f*ck? By this logic, if I look out my window and don’t see a serial killer, I can presume that serial killers don’t exist. Likewise, if I see 30% fewer cars on Sunday, I can state that the number of cars in my city has decreased by 30%.

Let’s examine the facts. Handheld cell phone bans are as widely ignored as the old 55 mile per hour speed limit was. I’ve lived in states that have enacted bans, and have never seen a reduction in the number of drivers on cell phones, regardless of the law. In terms of enforcement, unless there’s a local campaign to target cell phone driving, you’re about as likely to get a ticket for cell phone use as you are for jaywalking.

Studies from as far back as 2005 and 2006 have documented that use of cell phones is as dangerous as driving drunk. Other studies seem to indicate that even “hands free” devices don’t solve the problem; the human brain is simply not wired to multitask this way.

A 2009 test by Car and Driver (admittedly less than 100% scientific) showed even more dramatic results from texting and driving; one test subject had double the reaction time while texting than he did while driving under the influence.

I don’t know about you, but I get all the proof I need every time I get behind the wheel.

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4 Responses

  1. Bob says:

    Another meaningless study. Laws may be enacted but rarely enforced until there are reasons, like accidents, to enforce them.

    How many drivers with suspended licenses drive while under suspension? It is not known that a driver is under suspension until an accident or another violation occurs. All that is needed to drive a vehicle is, a vehicle. No license required but most obey the law.

    In states where there are laws regarding cell phones while driving there still are many drivers talking on them or texting while driving.

  2. John Francis says:

    We can do just about anything with electronics now, so why don’t we just program cell phones so that you can not talk or text while the cars are moving? They would still stay on to be able to receive messages-you just couldn’t reply unless you are stopped, unless you had a hands free system, which would be recognized by the automobile and the phone.

  3. Kurt says:

    I’m with you, John, but I don’t think the cell phone companies, service providers and politicians they own would go for that.

  4. Ferris says:

    Alas, Kurt, another issue that will be left in a dusty corner because of the greed of some government body or corporation. It brings to mind similar issues such as opposition to alternative energy solutions by the government which is being influenced by Big Oil.
    Money is not the root of all evil- greed however, is certainly a prominant factor. Money is just a medium for this greed.