Telecommunications Policy

Study: Cell Phone Bans Don't Improve Road Safety

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More surprising, the study was actually sponsored by auto insurers.

The study, released Friday by the Highway Loss Data Institute, examined insurance claims from crashes before and after such bans took effect in California, New York, Connecticut and Washington, D.C.

The organization found that claims rates did not go down after the laws were enacted. It also found no change in patterns compared with nearby states without such bans.

Adrian Lund, the group's president, said the finding doesn't bode well "for any safety payoff from all the new laws."

Six states and the District of Columbia ban talking on a hand-held device for all drivers, while 19 states and the District of Columbia ban texting while driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The Highway Loss Data Institute, an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said its findings "don't match what we already know about the risk of phoning and texting while driving" and said it is gathering data to "figure out this mismatch."

It said one explanation could be an increase in the use of handsfree devices in places with bans on handset use while driving.

That's true of talking on a cell phone. Not sure how you can use a hands-free device to send a text message. But I'd imagine that with texting bans, a big problem is that the laws really aren't enforceable.

Also, I hate to say "I told you so," but . . . okay, that's a lie. I don't mind saying it at all.

So I told you so.

(Thanks to Patrick Geisler for the tip.)