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November 12th, 2009:

Should we ban cell phones in cars? No.

As state legislatures around the country rush to ban the use of cell phones in cars, I thought it would be a good time to pause and consider a few facts about cell phones and traffic safety over the past few years.

Or if you prefer your data in graphs, I made these three with data from the NHTSA, Neilson survey, The Pew Center and the U.S. Census.

Car-crashes-and-cell-phone-use

Texting-and-driving

carpooling-fatalities

These facts and data show us that despite all the sensationalistic claims like “talking on a cell phone is more dangerous than drunk driving,” the rapid proliferation of cell phones and text messaging in cars has not made our roads more dangerous. On the contrary, our roads have become dramatically safer over the last decade.

Is this increased safety due to a decline in carpooling? Perhaps.

After all, if you ignore the results from fancy “eye-ball tracking” studies and driving simulators, which are not very applicable to the real world anyway, and just ask motorists what they find distracting, they will tell you something surprising. Crying children, it seems, are one of the biggest distractions motorists face. At least that is according to a survey conducted by Leasetrader.com. So maybe we should let cell phones be, and just ban carpooling instead.

Driven to distraction

Previous topics mentioned in this post:

Is it time to ban carpooling?

The graph the New York Times doesn’t want you to see


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