Study: Law banning cell phones while driving doesn’t reduce accident rate

posted at 7:41 pm on July 25, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham

Most Americans admit to being fry-dipping, cell-phone-gossiping, mascara-applying distracted drivers. A 2011 poll, reported in USA Today, showed 86 percent of us eat or drink in the car, more than half talk on the phone, and about 40 percent admit to the offenses of setting the GPS or texting. Many Americans, even in a state as conservative as Texas, want to be saved from their bad behavior by a ban on cell phone use in the car.

But are they really saving themselves? Though the laws are largely noncontroversial, they’re also hard to enforce, and increasingly look ineffective, according to studies of their real-life track records. A new study of California’s six-year-old cell phone ban, peer-reviewed and published in the journal Transportation Research examined crash data for the six months prior to California’s cell phone ban and the six months after.

“Our main result was that we found no evidence that the California cellphone ban decreased accidents,” Colorado University economics Professor Daniel T. Kaffine, one of the lead autors of the study, said in a statement. “This is surprising, because a lot of prior studies had shown that people who talk on cell phones, while driving, are just as impaired as people who are intoxicated.”

Along with Colorado School of Mines mathematician Bob Yu and Rand Corporation analyst Nicholas E. Burger, Kaffine looked at the six months from January 1 to June 30, 2008 as the “before” period and July 1 to December 31, 2008 as the “after period” to avoid overlap with a ban on text messaging that took effect on January 1, 2009.

The researchers looked at the average daily number of collisions, verifying that other factors such as the number of miles traveled, rainfall and gas prices did not affect the numbers. The final figures also accounted for holidays, as the numbers show accidents fell 15 percent because people drive less on those days. No matter how the numbers were analyzed, the results did not change.

“When we go to the data we just didn’t see any evidence that accidents actually declined in the six months after this ban that was put in place,” Kaffine explained.


Autoblog interviewed Kaffine, and notes this isn’t the only study to turn up this result:

“We went in there expecting to see something,” Daniel Kaffine, one of the study’s authors, told Autoblog. “[But] it was pretty clear to us that there was no compelling evidence of a decrease in accidents.”

Though offsetting for safety advocates, Kaffine’s research is in line with other findings. The Highway Loss Data Institute, the research arm of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, studied insurance claims rates in 2009 and 2010 studies, and found no link that bans helped decrease crashes.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia ban hand-held cell-phone use in the car while 37 states and D.C. prohibit it for young and novice drivers, and 44 states ban texting while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Though this week’s study did not attempt to determine why the California law didn’t accomplish its aims, the researchers themselves have posited that it might be because other forms of distracted driving are just as dangerous or more. A 2012 study from UNC’s Highway Safety Research Center suggests that may be the case:

A March 2012 study sponsored by the American Automobile Association and conducted by the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center found that young drivers, the most accident-prone among all driving groups, are most likely distracted by rowdy passengers in the car, changing the radio station, and eating or drinking while at the wheel.

Use of mobile devices was the least prominent distraction observed, being overtaken by “adjusting controls, personal hygiene, communicating with someone outside the vehicle and reaching for objects in the vehicle,” according to the study.

“Electronic device use and other distracted driver behaviors were strongly associated with looking away from the roadway, although electronic device use was only weakly related to serious incidents,” the authors concluded.

President Obama, famous pragmatist that he is, has often urged that we do, not liberal or conservative things per se, but concentrate on doing what works. He doesn’t actually have any desire to do that, but the sentiment is nice. Any move toward evidence-based government and real evaluation of results, were it ever to happen, necessarily works to the advantage of people who are skeptical of government efficacy. Even building in an assumption that government programs should have to show they’re doing what they claim, much less doing it well, would be an improvement. Unfortunately, politicians and much of society aren’t interested in doing what works to tackle a problem, but in doing what makes us feel like we’ve tackled a problem. And, such feelings don’t make great policy.

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So what, nanny-staters need something to meddle with and this is perfect for them.

Bishop on July 25, 2014 at 7:45 PM

That’s cuz people don’t pay attention to the law – or their driving.
I have a 50 mile round trip commute every day and I see dozens of people talking and texting on cells EVERY day – and many nearly causing accidents in the process.

dentarthurdent on July 25, 2014 at 7:46 PM

Then it is obvious we need even more laws banning cell phone usage while driving…

trs on July 25, 2014 at 7:46 PM

Brought to you by the Cell Phone Promotion Board.

Just saw one blaze through a red light driving home.

viking01 on July 25, 2014 at 7:48 PM

Yes, but it’s good purely for the sense of decency.

vlad martel on July 25, 2014 at 7:49 PM

That’s cuz people don’t pay attention to the law – or their driving.

dentarthurdent on July 25, 2014 at 7:46 PM

Yes, exactly.

vlad martel on July 25, 2014 at 7:49 PM

If some moron reports an accident while they’re causing another accident do those cancel out?

viking01 on July 25, 2014 at 7:52 PM

… looked at the six months from January 1 to June 30, 2008 as the “before” period and July 1 to December 31, 2008 as the “after period” …

Hmmm … those periods kind of bracket the beginning of the 2008 financial collapse in the U.S., and particularly California, when IndyMac Bank (spun off from Countrywide Mortgage) collapsed in early July.

Coincidence? Or was the economy steadily heading into the crapper during the latter half of 2008, meaning less drivers and driving?

ShainS on July 25, 2014 at 7:55 PM

A police chief in Wisconsin has been charged with a misdemeanor after he used the name of a local Tea Party leader to create fake accounts on gay dating and pornographic sites, as well as HealthCare.gov and Match.com, to harass him.

Tim Kelemen, chief of police in the Town of Campell in western Wisconsin, faces one count of unlawful use of a computerized communication system, which carries a maximum penalty of $1,000 in fines and 90 days in jail.

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/paul-lagarde/police-chief-charged-signing-tea-party-leader-gay-porn-sites

davidk on July 25, 2014 at 7:58 PM

They already have laws dealing with such behavior. It’s called “Inattentive Driving.”

davidk on July 25, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Coincidence? Or was the economy steadily heading into the crapper during the latter half of 2008, meaning less drivers and driving?

ShainS on July 25, 2014 at 7:55 PM

They accounted for miles driven.

astonerii on July 25, 2014 at 8:01 PM

They already have laws dealing with such behavior. It’s called “Inattentive Driving.”

davidk on July 25, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Yup – fully agree – inattentive, careless, reckless – really no need for new laws – just do something about the people who are too dam stupid to focus on driving instead of something else.

I once saw a guy trying to make a left turn in a stick shift car (I was right next to him and could see into his car below my truck level – double turn lane) with a cigarette in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other – no cell phone involved.

dentarthurdent on July 25, 2014 at 8:04 PM

Hmm.
I think I can state without equivocation or fear of rebuttal that bad drivers
drive badly
.
Good drivers drive well.

Bad drivers include those who allow themselves to be distracted by 1) hitting misbehaving children in the back seat 2) cute guys sitting at a bus stop 3) the WRONG CHANNEL on the radio 4) cell phones.

Good drivers manage to not be distracted.

I really think laws banning bad other drivers is the best idea, leaving only me and possibly you to cruise the freeways, careful as always.

No need to thank me.

Dolce Far Niente on July 25, 2014 at 8:05 PM

They already have laws dealing with such behavior. It’s called “Inattentive Driving.”

davidk on July 25, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Yes, but again, habitual cell-phones users require special torment.

vlad martel on July 25, 2014 at 8:06 PM

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/paul-lagarde/police-chief-charged-signing-tea-party-leader-gay-porn-sites

davidk on July 25, 2014 at 7:58 PM

The Campbell, WI police chief was busy adjusting red light cameras to issue phony tickets and could not be reached for comment.

viking01 on July 25, 2014 at 8:07 PM

They accounted for miles driven.

astonerii on July 25, 2014 at 8:01 PM

Thanks. I did see that, but — being overly cynical these days — frankly don’t believe much in the rigorous honesty of most so-called “studies” anymore (seems virtually everything’s being politicized, perhaps even my own responses now) …

ShainS on July 25, 2014 at 8:07 PM

Up next: Lawmakers make a new law banning studies that disprove need for a new law.

batterup on July 25, 2014 at 8:09 PM

Study: Law banning cell phones while driving doesn’t reduce accident rate

I think we all know what must be done about this:

TRIPLE THE BUDGET!!!

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 25, 2014 at 8:13 PM

They already have laws dealing with such behavior. It’s called “Inattentive Driving.”
davidk on July 25, 2014 at 8:00 PM

AKA “Failure to keep proper lookout”…

Newtie and the Beauty on July 25, 2014 at 8:14 PM

Being a Kennedy increases the accident rate to 100 percent.

viking01 on July 25, 2014 at 8:19 PM

I will always talk on my phone while driving. I don’t care what anyone says! I have a built-in Bluetooth hands-free setup that goes through my car speakers. I can drive with full attention while talking and always have both hands on the wheel. It is the same, and maybe safer, than talking to a passenger in the seat next to me.

It is no different than singing along to the radio.

bluegill on July 25, 2014 at 8:20 PM

Originally I was against cell phone bans, but I’m watching way too many close calls, people sleeping through traffic lights, poor lane discipline, etc.

The study was supposed to be a failure because their assumptions were all wrong.

1) Just because a law is passed doesn’t mean that there is compliance. It is proven that social media is addicting, to pass some legislation and expect people to show any self-discipline is folly. Furthermore, many of our pro-drug abuse posters (Libertarians) tell us that decriminalization of their favorite drug will not result in more consumers of that drug. What they are saying is that laws don’t effect behavior.

2) They were looking for collisions. Most annoyances from phalkers is from their inattentiveness to traffic conditions, allowing huge gaps in front, failing to react to traffic lights and generally prompting others into road rage.

3) No accounting for risk homeostasis. A number of years ago a German taxi cab company introduced anti-lock brakes on to many cars in their fleet and discovered that the drivers, believing the anti-lock brakes made them safer, drove their taxis with much shorter trailing distance, made harder turns and were more aggressive in their driving style. There is a certain amount of risk that people are willing to accept and trade for other efficiencies.

4) In the case here, a number of people, fearing unwanted attention from the authorities, would very well hide their phones below the window, lowering their heads and increasing risk. For each of those people who decided to abide by the law, there very well could have been an uptick in the people who have adjusted their own use of the phone to dramatically increase their risk by taking their eyes completely off the road.

About the only way to determine safety issues here would be to make use of the telco and NSA’s meta-data of phone usage. By analysis, it would be trivial to associate a given phone to the primary driver of a car (to dramatically reduce from the data set passengers using a phone). From that data it would be possible to determine compliance to the law.

Most mobile phones have accelerometers in them, and it would be very simple to collect and transmit that data to compare drivers on the same stretch of road at the same time – those actually using their cellphones and those who have their phones on standby and are not using them. Then examine the accelerometer data to look for variances in driving patterns between the two sets.

As a cyclist, all it takes is for one distracted driver – distracted for any reason – to weave on to the shoulder, and there are no second chances for me. It makes sense to reduce the number of lawful distractions.

For those Libertines who like and want to promote social decay and cultural coursening, people just don’t police themselves and a growing number need to be reminded through force and fines that their activities are dangerous to others.

Reuben Hick on July 25, 2014 at 8:22 PM

And, now with voice commands getting more advanced, I think talking on the phone while driving will become even safer.

bluegill on July 25, 2014 at 8:22 PM

Make a law..find violators. Collect money for the government.
Rinse/repeat.

Mimzey on July 25, 2014 at 8:27 PM

And I also strongly support the advancement and use of this technology:
https://www.apple.com/ios/carplay/

Screw all these attempts to ban stuff. We can make talking and using our phones while driving even safer, and that is what we should be working on.

bluegill on July 25, 2014 at 8:27 PM

As a cyclist,

For those Libertines who like and want to promote social decay and cultural coursening, people just don’t police themselves and a growing number need to be reminded through force and fines that their activities are dangerous to others.
Reuben Hick on July 25, 2014 at 8:22 PM

That just says it all right there. Roads are for cars, Mr. Hick. Can’t stand the herds of those annoying cyclists in their stupid little tight pants.

I’ve lost count of how many cyclists have flipped me off, and I believe they cause more road rage than anyone else.

bluegill on July 25, 2014 at 8:37 PM

We can make talking and using our phones while driving even safer, and that is what we should be working on.

bluegill on July 25, 2014 at 8:27 PM

Talking is distracting but texting is suicidal. I always thought that insurance liability, properly communicated to people, could take care of a lot of distracted driving.

J.B. Say on July 25, 2014 at 8:40 PM

It’s never been about safety. It’s all about the $$$

LtGenRob on July 25, 2014 at 8:40 PM

That just says it all right there. Roads are for cars, Mr. Hick. Can’t stand the herds of those annoying cyclists in their stupid little tight pants.

Interesting.

In Texas, it is a criminal event to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk.

On top of that, surface streets are paid for from the general revenue, not from gasoline taxes – otherwise you can also vent your bigoted rage and hate at kids who shoot hoops down on the cul de sac, and those who drive Chevy Volts and get their locomotive energy from the wall outlet.

Then there is the issue of why you feel that cyclists are second class citizens. Why are you using the roadway? Going to the movies? What makes your recreation more important and worthy than a cyclist’s?

Are you going to a job? Isn’t the cycling commuter also allowed to use the same roadway to get to work – or are you content with taking their tax money to pay for the roads that only autos, motorcycles and trucks are entitled to use exclusively?

Its sad that you decide to hate someone merely because of their choice in clothing and thus feel it is OK to designate them as second class and not worthy to enjoy the things that they too have paid for.

And, bicycles have been around longer than automobiles, and roads have been around for millennia. If anything, the automobile is the new coming interloper.

Reuben Hick on July 25, 2014 at 8:48 PM

Talking is distracting but texting is suicidal. I always thought that insurance liability, properly communicated to people, could take care of a lot of distracted driving.
J.B. Say on July 25, 2014 at 8:40 PM

You should never look down or take your hands off the wheel while driving, but in the future it will be possible to read/listen to text messages and email and also to compose them with voice commands. I know there are already products available that let us do this, but they still need perfecting.

Of course people shouldn’t be looking at a screen and typing out messages while driving, but these laws that prohibit any cell phone use while driving are going way too far.

bluegill on July 25, 2014 at 8:49 PM

Thanks. I did see that, but — being overly cynical these days — frankly don’t believe much in the rigorous honesty of most so-called “studies” anymore (seems virtually everything’s being politicized, perhaps even my own responses now) …

ShainS on July 25, 2014 at 8:07 PM

Yeah, thanks to the public/scientific joining, scientists have taken a hell of a beating in trust. A well deserved beating.

Personally, this fits my position on bans of cell phone users. It is an endeavor of pointlessness. So I would be less inclined to argue against its findings.

Before anyone thinks I am an avid driving while phoning/texting person. My state does not ban either for adults and I do not partake in either, as I rarely ever have my cell phone on me regardless. I do not believe in the always connected universe. I refuse to be a part of it.

I am also just as pissy about the people who talk or text on the phone as you are. They get in the way, they slow things down, they sit at green lights too long, they run too many red lights and cause too many accidents. I just do not think a ban is the way to go, just like I do not think speed limits are the proper path. By the way, there are more people who do not use phones in their cars that cause every last one of these problems. But since they are not actively doing something else there is nothing that can be done about them, right?

The right path is to properly punish the actual damage they cause. One person can probably drive fine while texting or talking on the phone, why punish them if they are not causing the problem. The person who gets into an accident on the other hand, regardless of why they failed to retain control of their car, should bear a much higher cost to repay society for those damages.

astonerii on July 25, 2014 at 8:53 PM

6 months before and 6 months after?

F-

Anyone who’s taken even a ground-level course in statistics will tell you that such a short interval of data is meaningless. And the fact that the “study” authors chose to use such a narrow time frame calls into question their objectivity.

Disclaimer: Got rear-ended 10 years ago, only a few miles from home here in NH. Suffered no major injuries, thankfully. But the police report blamed the other driver, a teenaged girl with 6 other girlfriends in her parents’ car. Despite having all of that company, she was talking on her cell phone when she totaled my vehicle.

New Hampshire’s Governor is due to sign a cell phone use in vehicles bill any day now, but it would not take effect for another year. But the state already bans texting in any form in vehicles.

Del Dolemonte on July 25, 2014 at 9:04 PM

Interesting.
In Texas, it is a criminal event to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk.
Reuben Hick on July 25, 2014 at 8:48 PM

If that’s a problem, then try to get the law changed, or move to another state.

Look, if cyclists would just stay in their bike lanes, then things would be a lot better. But you and I both know that they (often when in groups) spill out into the highway lanes. It creates such a safety hazard, forcing approaching cars to slow down. It’s like they are just begging to be honked at. Well, I give them what they are begging for, and I get right behind them and I honk until they get out of my way. Living in yuppie central as I do, obnoxious cyclist herd sightings are common.

bluegill on July 25, 2014 at 9:06 PM

Sounds like people are ignoring laws saving themselves from themselves. Just wait until people start buying good old fashioned light bulbs, or driving around without seat belts, or getting unregulated toilets or … stop paying their federal income taxes.

Ruckus_Tom on July 25, 2014 at 9:09 PM

For those Libertines who like and want to promote social decay and cultural coursening, people just don’t police themselves and a growing number need to be reminded through force and fines that their activities are dangerous to others.

Reuben Hick on July 25, 2014 at 8:22 PM

I could almost hear your little statist-gasm as you typed that out.

UnstChem on July 25, 2014 at 9:18 PM

For those Libertines who like and want to promote social decay and cultural coursening, people just don’t police themselves and a growing number need to be reminded through force and fines that their activities are dangerous to others.

Reuben Hick on July 25, 2014 at 8:22 PM

For those police statists who like to force absolute control over the person they should be reminded that stupid laws cause a social decay and a cultural coarsening. People are generally capable of policing themselves when they face proper consequences for their failures and are much more respectful for those consequences as they occur due to their own personal failures. On the other hand, people generally become less respectful for laws when they see those laws as unfair and unevenly enforced or worse yet, completely unenforceable in general but instead used as tyrannical tools for control. As the number of laws of must do or must not do increase, people become less personally responsible for themselves and eventually become incapable of making choices, particularly good choices when confronted with a situation without a must do or must no do control placed on them. Of course, as the number of must do and must not do items increases, they become impossible to know all of them, thereby making the laws in effect arbitrary since no one can know them all and many are likely contradictory. Thus leading to yet more unenforceable laws and uneven compliance and enforcement.

The laws should be few enough to be known by all near average citizens. The laws should be clear enough to be understood similarly by all near average citizens. The laws should be enforceable at all levels. The laws should be enforced evenly and fairly and without prejudice.

Simply saying that a driver shall remain in control of their vehicle at all times should be law enough and clear enough as well as fully enforceable and easily maintained through an entire society. What difference does it make if someone causes the exact same accident and the exact same damage if the causes of it were, drunk, texting, talking, narcoleptic, high on drugs, changing the radio station, angry, spilled coffee, spilled soda, masturbating, looking at a girl’s blue jeans, hallucinating, daydreaming, just too stupid to do any better, … Why should one person who causes the same accident and the same damage get off without any consequences other than insurance premiums while another person goes to jail? The only time there should be a difference in outcome is intention. If a person causes the accident due to malice, causes it due to inattentiveness or it is caused due to outside forces which could not be avoided should be the only reasons for a different consequence for the driver.

astonerii on July 25, 2014 at 9:24 PM

“When we go to the data we just didn’t see any evidence that accidents actually declined in the six months after this ban that was put in place,”

TRANSLATION: People ignored the ban.

GarandFan on July 25, 2014 at 9:25 PM

Normal people’s reaction: Obviously, this prohibition is useless and should not be imposed.
Democrat’s reaction: Obviously not enough things are banned. Here’s a list of other 5 things I propose to ban, and if you disagree it’s because you would LOVE to see more dead children.

PBH on July 25, 2014 at 9:29 PM

I had a Motorola “brick” way back. The day I almost careened off the city street while looking at the keypad was a revelation. The quick glance has become the way to dial if necessary, and it is a skill to be had, but it does decrease the driver’s attention in all cases regardless.

Just talking is not too much of a problem for most people. It’s the answering and dialing and texting that are killers.

bbhack on July 25, 2014 at 10:19 PM

Then it is obvious we need even more laws banning cell phone usage while driving…

trs on July 25, 2014 at 7:46 PM

.
That’s definitely the “progressive” take, on such results.
.

“…..and further, if we pass legislation requiring a reduction of the world’s population by two-thirds, that will greatly reduce the number of accidents.”

listens2glenn on July 25, 2014 at 10:38 PM

California will never repeal the law–it bring in too much money, at about $240 per violation. A judge just ruled you can follow a phone nav system without being fined, but I’m sure that will be appealed.

Talking on a cell phone is not so much a big deal, but texting is. When I see people kind of swerving I know they are texting. I used to think they were intoxicated.

So you have to be careful, no matter what. Allow cell phones!

PattyJ on July 25, 2014 at 10:48 PM

The worst distraction of all is talking to other passengers or to the driver.. So let’s ban conversation, group rides and install listening devices in all vehicles and hire 100,000 illegal aliens to monitor the listening devices.

And wouldn’t you be breaking the law if you phone in an accident on 911, via cell phone, or is there ca special dispensation covering this contingency?

The moral is if you allow the government to abridge your freedoms, they will.

MaiDee on July 25, 2014 at 10:59 PM

The worst distraction of all is talking to other passengers or to the driver.. So let’s ban conversation, group rides and install listening devices in all vehicles and hire 100,000 illegal aliens to monitor the listening devices.

And wouldn’t you be breaking the law if you phone in an accident on 911, via cell phone, or is there a special dispensation covering this contingency?

The moral is if you allow the government to abridge your freedoms, they will.

MaiDee on July 25, 2014 at 11:02 PM

“When we go to the data we just didn’t see any evidence that accidents actually declined in the six months after this ban that was put in place,”

TRANSLATION: People ignored the ban.

GarandFan on July 25, 2014 at 9:25 PM

And there was probably little to no enforcement, resulting in people ignoring the ban.

Mitoch55 on July 25, 2014 at 11:39 PM

I have a 50 mile round trip commute every day and I see dozens of people talking and texting on cells EVERY day – and many nearly causing accidents in the process.

dentarthurdent on July 25, 2014 at 7:46 PM

A friend in eastern Virginia related a few years ago that a Trooper stopped someone driving east on I-64 during rush hour. In addition to speeding, the driver had a cel phone cradled on their shoulder, and a lap-top resting on the steering wheel. Multi-tasking, I suppose.

oldleprechaun on July 25, 2014 at 11:42 PM

6 months before and 6 months after?
F-
Anyone who’s taken even a ground-level course in statistics will tell you that such a short interval of data is meaningless. And the fact that the “study” authors chose to use such a narrow time frame calls into question their objectivity.
Del Dolemonte on July 25, 2014 at 9:04 PM

Especially hard to take much away from the study since there’s no study name citation so that it can be looked up, much less a link to it. Amd no reference as to who funded it. Looks like even the authors realized they had come up with an outlier:
“This is surprising, because a lot of prior studies had shown that people who talk on cell phones, while driving, are just as impaired as people who are intoxicated.”

I figure if anybody really needs to yak/txt with their BFF, update their Twitter, watch movies, play Extreme Birds or whatever, they can pull over, stop and go at it to their hearts content. Or just stay at home instead and play with their Itoy of choice.

whatcat on July 25, 2014 at 11:51 PM

The worst distraction of all is talking to other passengers or to the driver.. So let’s ban conversation, group rides and install listening devices in all vehicles and hire 100,000 illegal aliens to monitor the listening devices.

And wouldn’t you be breaking the law if you phone in an accident on 911, via cell phone, or is there a special dispensation covering this contingency?

The moral is if you allow the government to abridge your freedoms, they will.

MaiDee on July 25, 2014 at 11:02 PM

The one time I got into a accident from distraction was because I was engaged with my daughters in conversation. That was about 10 years ago when they were young.

There was a time when my employment involved driving while on a cellphone, looking at a mapbook, and writing something down simultaneously.

I have no aptitude for multitasking, but I learned to stay attentive when the situation demanded it. Responsibility is laughed at today.

UnstChem on July 25, 2014 at 11:52 PM

I will always talk on my phone while driving. I don’t care what anyone says! I have a built-in Bluetooth hands-free setup that goes through my car speakers. I can drive with full attention while talking and always have both hands on the wheel. It is the same, and maybe safer, than talking to a passenger in the seat next to me.

bluegill on July 25, 2014 at 8:20 PM

When I do talk on the phone in the car, I use the hands-free technology as well. I think that’s a bit different than holding a phone to your ear. However, I hate talking on the phone, so I don’t do it often. But what I don’t understand is that I see plenty of people in newer cars that undoubtedly have the Bluetooth technology, but they’re still holding phones to their ears. Even when they’re in the car by themselves. It’s baffling. The thing I hate the most about talking on the phone is having to hold it to my ear while the other party babbles on about something I couldn’t care less about. And texting? What the hell is the point of that? Stretch out a two minute phone conversation into a half-hour of typing? Awesome. I shed no tears for anyone who dies while texting and driving. I hope more of them wrap themselves around trees or telephone polls so they don’t take anyone else with them.

Mullaney on July 26, 2014 at 12:30 AM

Texting while driving kills many many many people a year now. It is an honest to god danger to your children’s health and safety when they are behind the wheel, in a car, or on the road whether as a result of their usage or someone else’s. Yet I hear many “nanny staters!” comments and the like. As if it’s a bad , useless , toothless law that does absolutely nothing to actually stop this very dangerous activity.

Meanwhile, bring up marijuana, which is infinitely safer to your health, safety, and that of those around you than is texting in your phone while driving, and we find a much different reaction.

Conservatives. Small government! Accept where we still like using it!

Genuine on July 26, 2014 at 1:04 AM

“When we go to the data we just didn’t see any evidence that accidents actually declined in the six months after this ban that was put in place,”

TRANSLATION: People ignored the ban.

GarandFan on July 25, 2014 at 9:25 PM

And there was probably little to no enforcement, resulting in people ignoring the ban.

Mitoch55 on July 25, 2014 at 11:39 PM

Precisely. The situation almost says in neon lettering that the new law was enforced with zero enthusiasm, people snubbed their noses at it, and the ‘study’ appears to have been a deliberate attempt to allow it no time to work. American attention span, IMHO.

Speed limits in my city are a joke most of the time…until something nasty happens due to some leadfooted oaf (last time it was a 15-car pileup) and the politicians get a hotfoot by the voters and the cops get pushed to actually enforce them. The difference, for a while at least, is astounding.

There’ve been independent studies by the dozen showing the marked increase in inattention with cell-phone use, run by anyone from news stations to concerned citizen’s committees, not a few with on-camera footage of drivers on test courses (ie; no traffic at all) showing that yes Virginia there IS a danger.

LawfulGood on July 26, 2014 at 3:13 AM

Of course such mandatory laws work well–just like the 65 MPH has complete compliance on our nations highways and byways.

Don L on July 26, 2014 at 5:08 AM

I recall an older uncle driving when I was a teen. He would turn and look at the passenger every time he talked and the guy would never shut up. I wore out several rosaries…..
Maybe if we make talking illegal? Oh the Dems and the White House are already working on that

Don L on July 26, 2014 at 5:10 AM

Study: Law banning cell phones while driving doesn’t reduce accident rate

You’re missing the point, MKH. Much like with drug prohibition, the law is not supposed to result in decreased use. Rather, it is supposed to give us punitive means for dealing with those who flout the law when they are discovered.

Stoic Patriot on July 26, 2014 at 5:59 AM

The law and persons debating are focused, wrongly as usual, on the denominator rather than the numerator.

Driver’s licenses are ridiculously easy to obtain in the US in terms of demonstrating competence behind the wheel. And why not? Licensing is big money for the state – fees, registrations and, of course, gas taxes from vehicles on the road. They have little incentive to weed out poor/infirm drivers. It’s why an 80-year old with cataracts who makes only right turns due to a limited field of vision is renewed and causes a panic every time he/she visits the grocery store.

One-size-fits-all laws do not work because they cannot work and attempting to justify and/or enforce same is a fool’s errand. The police run 90-100 mph on the phone and using a laptop yet they are rarely singled out. And how are these same police meant to peer through tinted glass at high speed to determine phone use when the claim of adjusting the radio or getting GPS info could be made?

jangle12 on July 26, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Still, every time I see a driver doing something stupid, they have a cell phone to their ear. Maybe the causation goes the other way.

Count to 10 on July 26, 2014 at 9:08 AM

LawfulGood on July 26, 2014 at 3:13 AM

I can do plenty of studies placing people in situations where they have no experience doing things and pretty much get every part of the automobile banned.
Does using a cell phone distract a person? Sure it does. Is it the only distraction that a person in a car is going to actively engage in? Not at all. Part of the issue is that people want to be distracted, they actively engage in distraction causing activities for the distraction. Another way to look at the ban is that it forces drivers to find a different distraction.
Want evidence, just look around at the vehicles on the road and what is happening in and with them. Reasonably wide open road, and you got a tailgater, why? Because that person is using you as a distraction and setting themselves to the level of risk they feel good about. Chick doing makeup while driving? Is it because she really needs the make up right now? Nope, it is because that is her distraction that sets her level of risk. The guy headbanging, yup, same thing. The list is as infinite as there are people and moments of those people behind the wheel. There are not enough pieces of paper and ink to write out all the laws that would make the road as safe as you would want it, and not enough people on the planet to enforce it even if you wrote it out in absolute detail. Mostly because anyone enforcing the laws would be actively looking for their own freaking distractions… That police car that blew through a red light with his lights on, sure, he might be after a criminal, but many times you will see them taking a break at a local cafe rather than apprehending some scofflaw.
People have a set determined level of risk they are willing to live with. Some individuals have much higher risk levels, some lower. It does not matter how you set the laws, they will find ways to get to that set level of risk.
The best way to deal with it is to actually enforce what you are looking to prevent. Distraction. The only way to actually do that is to put a significant penalty on the end result of that distraction, the actual accidents. People who cause accidents should be severely reprimanded rather than the current barely a slap on the wrist. None of these other laws make any difference, the reason is because the risk level is built right into the people, and no amount of do this or do not do that is going to prevent them from finding that level of risk. But, this is the big point, the way to change the level of damage society experiences is to actually take the bad actors out of society.

astonerii on July 26, 2014 at 9:21 AM

The Science is Settled!!!

SaveFarris on July 26, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Solutions: 1) like dui laws where drivers lic can be confiscated at arrest, take possession of cell phone until court date/fine paid– that will awaken them 2) apply existing tech which when sensing speeds over 20 mph kills texting ability. And yes i dont care if passengers cant text either.

hillsoftx on July 26, 2014 at 9:34 AM

Solutions: 1) like dui laws where drivers lic can be confiscated at arrest, take possession of cell phone until court date/fine paid– that will awaken them 2) apply existing tech which when sensing speeds over 20 mph kills texting ability. And yes i dont care if passengers cant text either.

hillsoftx on July 26, 2014 at 9:34 AM

I got a better solution. Take all the mini tyrants and put them on house arrest. Accidents will drop precipitously. No need for a reason, simply being like you is enough of a reason.

astonerii on July 26, 2014 at 9:36 AM

That’s cuz people don’t pay attention to the law – or their driving. I have a 50 mile round trip commute every day and I see dozens of people talking and texting on cells EVERY day – and many nearly causing accidents in the process. dentarthurdent on July 25, 2014 at 7:46 PM

Is that peer reviewed?

Akzed on July 26, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Is that peer reviewed?

Akzed on July 26, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Do you trust his peers?

astonerii on July 26, 2014 at 11:22 AM

I would have no objection to a reasonable law, but a total ban is unreasonable. On the news they always say when reporting on a big crash, alert people who are coming this way! How? You can’t use your phone!

In city driving you should be able to use it when you are stopped, at least, or when you are using ear buds to talk/listen.

PattyJ on July 26, 2014 at 11:29 AM

In city driving you should be able to use it when you are stopped, at least, or when you are using ear buds to talk/listen.

PattyJ on July 26, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Aren’t headphones and ear buds illegal to use while driving?

Count to 10 on July 26, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Yes, Count, but they should not be IMO.

PattyJ on July 26, 2014 at 12:21 PM

As a Californian I can say that drivers are using their phones in their cars with no fear of getting caught. So the laws could make a difference if they were enforced. Our politicians LOVE to make laws. Enforcing them, no so much.

It they are not going to enforce a law DON’T PASS IT.

hestrold on July 26, 2014 at 1:06 PM

That’s because cell phones are addictive.

flataffect on July 26, 2014 at 3:06 PM

Tell that to the people, and it is almost always women, who are weaving all over the road with a phone stuck in their ear.

They can’t even push a cart through the grocery store without having a phone stuck in their ear.

Moesart on July 26, 2014 at 3:32 PM

Most of the meaningful laws that support and protect society have been on the books for more than a century.

More recent laws, like cell phone laws, were put on the books for one of two reasons:

1) Somebody did something insane, and politicians pandered to the mass hysteria in the wake of the event by banning something tangentially related to that insane thing.

2) People do some things that the government does not like. The Constitution does not let politicians pass laws banning the thing not liked. So politicians pass some law loosely associated with the thing they want to ban, in hopes of being able to punish the offender for doing the legal thing by charging them with the loosely associated thing they have legislated into a criminal act.

Government tends toward tyrannical laws. The Constitution restricts tyranny. Therefore government is continually working to thwart and bypass the Constitution.

It is no wonder that being a freedom loving person and being anti-government seem to go hand-in-hand. I think most of the founding fathers would have to be classified as anti-government types. They saw the necessity of some political authority in a nation, but tried hard to keep it limited.

s1im on July 26, 2014 at 3:58 PM

“Our main result was that we found no evidence that the California cellphone ban decreased accidents,” Colorado University economics Professor Daniel T. Kaffine, one of the lead authors of the study, said in a statement.

… The FIRST issue/question is/should be: “to what extent did the ban induce people to stop using their cellphones while driving.”

… IF (as a thought experiment) NO ONE heeded the ban and (therefore) reduced their cellphone use, it would not be surprising that there would be “no decrease in accidents.” Indeed, one would expect that there would not be.

Alternatively, to the extent that cellphone use while driving contributes to accidents, IF (again, as a thought experiment) 100% of CA drivers eliminated their cellphone-while-driving use, there was a decrease in accidents…

Well, you get my drift. The above quote, and the failure to consider this obvious point says a great deal… doesn’t it?

Wing Chun Man on July 26, 2014 at 6:46 PM

As a separate (yet related) issue, I must add for the record that as a strict Objectivist, I maintain that there should not be any such thing as “government-regulated public roads.” Roads should be privately owned/maintained/regulated -in which case it would be up to the owners to address whether or not they’d permit their customers to use cellphones while driving, etc.

Wing Chun Man on July 26, 2014 at 6:49 PM