If you read all of the scary stories about how distracting cell phones are to drivers, you’d probably think that our roads are becoming a more dangerous place. After all, how could they not be? The ‘safety experts’ keep telling us that talking using cell phones while driving is as dangerous than driving drunk! And more and more Americans are buying the kind of smart phones that make texting and emailing a breeze. The roads must surely be getting more dangerous.
Well, not really. According to new data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic fatalities fell by over 8.9 percent last year. That is the fourth straight year that they declined dramatically. When you look at fatalities per-100,000 miles driven, our roads are safer than they have ever been before.
And it is not just that our cars are better at keeping people alive—they are. But collisions are down dramatically as well. Simply put, Americans are getting in fewer car crashes than ever before.
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.
To quote the director of the study:
We still don’t think we understand this fully… 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.
So why is it we need to ban drivers from using cell phones again?