Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Cell phone bans don't measurably reduce auto accidents. Surprised? 

Why should you be?

The news is ...
Study: Cell phone bans don't reduce accidents

A new study suggests laws banning the use of hand-held devices while driving have not reduced the rate of accidents in three states and the District of Columbia.

In addition to the nation's capital, the report by the Highway Loss Data Institute reviews insurance claims in New York, Connecticut and California. It also compares the data to other areas that do not have cell phone bans.

"The laws aren't reducing crashes, even though we know that such laws have reduced hand-held phone use, and several studies have established that phoning while driving increases crash risk," said Adrian Lund, president of the Highway Loss Data Institute... [CNN]
... with all the reports presenting this as a big mystery.

Yet this very blog in its earliest days, near five years back, pointed to a study giving a list of things that are more dangerous than using a cell phone while driving, including...
Rubbernecking (causing three times as many accidents as cell phones)
Fatigue (more than twice as many)
Looking at scenery, landmarks (twice as many)
Attention given to a child or other passenger (almost twice as many)
Adjusting a radio or changing a CD or tape recording...
While about as many accidents result from being distracted by: daydreaming, eating or drinking, adjusting vehicle controls, weather conditions, an insect or object hitting or entering the vehicle, reading a map or newspaper or something else ... among other things.

Moreover, "studies show that accidents involving cell phones relate primarily not to dialing or holding them but to the distraction caused by the phone conversation itself."

OK. So given both that cell phone use causes so few of all total accidents, and that in the accidents it is related to it is the distracting nature of the phone conversation itself, not the hand-held nature of the phone, that usually causes the accident ... just how many crashes would you expect to be averted by banning use of hand-held phones in cars?

Maybe ... too few to be measured?

If legislators really wanted to prevent distraction-caused accidents, the first things they should ban would be billboards (businesses actually making money by distracting drivers' eyes from the road), radios and CD players, food and drink, children...

Why pick on hand-held cell phones? Because this is what politicians do.

And you'd have known it from reading it here first, if you were reading here five years ago.