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Cell Phone Bans Have No Effect on Traffic Safety

I kind of saw this one coming. In the last year or so, here at Business Hacks we've tackled the issue of distracted driving on a number of occasions, and I've generally taken the somewhat unpopular position of opposing bans on cell phone use while driving.

It's not that I like traffic accidents; it's just that I see bans on cell phone use as arbitrary, an example of "fad" legislation, and, I assumed, largely ineffectual. Well, now I have some proof.

The New York Times published a story last week demonstrating that laws banning cell phones have not reduced the accident rate.

Specifically, a study has looked at the accident rate before and after cell phone bans were instituted in California, New York, Connecticut and Washington. And the accident rate before and after is statistically indistinguishable. Said the head researcher: "We can't even see a blip in the data."

This appears to say that either:

  • 100% of the drivers in those states ignored the law or
  • Using a cell phone in a car isn't any different than fiddling with the radio, talking to a passenger, glancing at a map, or any of the other minor distractions that have been afflicting drivers for almost a century.
I love being right. What do you think? Weigh in with your own comment. Or read more about software that can disable your Blackberry when you drive and other examples of high-tech nannyism.

Photo by orangechallenger

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