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Roads safer than ever before but the NYT still wants to ban cell phones

Stuck in trafficIf 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?

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  1. […] While they can’t find the time to balance the state budget, qualify for $800 million in federal road funds, or reform the state’s broken tax structure, the Michigan State Senate did find time today to pass sweeping legislation criminalizing the use of cell phones in cars. This is apparently a pressing issue—despite the fact that our roads are safer than ever before. […]

  2. […] that despite the proliferation of cell phones, our roads are safer than ever before. Not only are fewer people dying in car crashes, we are getting in fewer collisions per 100,000 miles driven as well. Of course […]

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