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Surprise! Surprise! Cell phone bans don’t make the roads safer [distracted driving]

Checking in with the ElvesThe Insurance Institute for Highway Safety just finished a comprehensive study of the effectiveness of cell phone bans and the results won’t be surprising to regular readers of this blog.  Cell phone bans, it turns out, have no effect on road safety and accident rates.

To repeat: The effect of bans wasn’t mild, or slight or not statistically significant. It was totally non-existent.

There wasn’t even “a blip” in the data, according to the president of the agency.  Sure the bans reduced cell phone usage by drivers by 41-70 percent, but they didn’t decrease the accident rate at all.

Despite what the times says (and this news was reported on one of their many blogs, not page A1 like most of their cell-phone fear mongering), the results of this study, which was one of the first to look at the effectiveness of laws banning drivers from using cell phones, are not a great mystery.

Banning cell phones doesn’t save lives because cell phones are not causing car crashes.

As I’ve written about before, despite insinuation to the contrary there is no evidence that cell phones are causing more accidents. Sure cell phones can be distracting. But they are no more distracting than all kinds of other things, like eating, radios and crying children.

The Times finally acknowledges this towards the end of their story.

“We still don’t think we understand this fully,” said Mr. Lund. But one possibility is that while cell phones are a distraction, maybe they are not “all that much worse a distraction than many of the other things that we do.

That is what I’ve been arguing all along.

(Hat tip: Kevin & Jake)

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  1. […] Free Refills reader John sent in word the other day that the Michigan legislature is moving ahead with a texting-while-driving ban. This is despite the fact that a recent study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that such bans have no impact whatsoever on safety. […]

  2. […] of the reasons that cell phone bans don’t seem to reduce traffic accidents is that in the scheme of things, talking on the cell phone is not one of the more dangerous […]

  3. […] And no, it is not because cell phone bans are saving lives. According to a comprehensive study that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted (they are one of the big groups supporting cell phone bans), cell phone bans succeed in getting people to hang up and drive—but don’t actually make our roads any safer at all. […]

  4. […] And of course, an exhaustive study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that outlawing the use of cell phones by drivers did decrease the number of people chatting while driving, but did not save any lives. […]

  5. […] Per Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates, I predict this will save zero lives. […]

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