Study Shows no Link between Cell Phone Bans and Accidents
The results of a study last week have sent auto safety advocates, personal injury lawyers in Atlanta and elsewhere, and the auto industry into a tizzy. The study released by the Highway Loss Data Institute and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates that there has been no significant drop in accident claims after laws banning hand held cell phone use while driving were enacted.
The study analyzed accident claims in 4 states that have banned handheld cell phone use while driving, and found no significant drop in accident claims after the bans were enacted. The study has, predictably enough, caused great consternation at the US Department of Transportation, where Secretary Ray LaHood has adopted distracted driving as his pet project.Just last week, the Department of Transportation banned text messaging while driving for commercial bus and truck drivers. Six states have bans on handheld cell phones in place, and several other states are considering similar legislation this y ear.
The findings of the study go against much of what personal injury lawyers in Atlanta and elsewhere, have been stressing over the past couple of years. So, what could have caused these findings, and how much importance should we give to a study that was financed by insurers?
For one thing, the study fails to take into consideration that passing a ban is one thing, and enforcing it is quite another. In short, enforcing a cell phone ban strictly is the key to seeing any results from the legislation. Besides, as Atlanta auto accident lawyers have been saying all along, half hearted measures like text messaging bans and handheld cell phone use bans only deal with half the problem. Using a handsfree set may be perfectly legal, but takes your attention away from the road just as much as using a hand held cell phone would. As the National Safety Council has advised, the distractions from cell phone use come from the actual conversation that the person is having, and not whether he is using his hand to hold the device.