08-Jul-2011 09:26

No Evidence Driver Mobile Phone Ban Reduce Crashes

Norman’s note: In case you all begin to shout at me, the following report is clearly not discussing whether driving whilst distracted (i.e. using a mobile phone) is dangerous. That is obvious and clear. The study is whether “legislation” helps solve the problem. To that end, I am inclined to agree with the study that perhaps law enforcement should focus elsewhere to improve driving safety.

A comprehensive study on distracted driving has found there is no conclusive evidence that hands-free mobile phone use while driving is any less risky than hand-held mobile phone use.

The study, which was commissioned by the non-profit Governors Highway Safety Association, and funded by State Farm Insurance, also found that there is no evidence that mobile phone or texting bans have reduced the level of crashes.

The findings come after nine states in the US imposed bans on hand-held mobile phone use while driving, and 34 states imposed texting bans for drivers behind the wheel.

Despite the findings, The Governors Highway Safety Association does not recommend that restrictions on mobile phone use or texting be lifted in any of the states where they presently exist.

But it does recommend that those 41 states which don't ban talking on a mobile phone hold off on enacting new legislation.

The study offers often contradictory findings.
For example, it found that drivers are frequently distracted by any number of factors ranging from eating, to talking to texting, perhaps as much as 50% of the time drivers spend behind the wheel.

But it also found that drivers adapt by paying more attention to driving - and less to distractions - when the road risk level increases. It also found that states should enforce existing distracted driving laws, but should consider that such enforcement takes away from other traffic enforcement efforts.

The study also documents the proliferation of mobile phone use and texting among American motorists.

It found two-thirds of all motorists reported using a mobile phone while driving, about one-third of them routinely.

It also found that one-eighth of all drivers reported texting while driving, although observational studies during the daylight hours in 2009 show that only 1 percent of all drivers were observed to be texting.

The authors make a number of recommendations including enacting a total ban of mobile phone use for novice drivers, as well as texting bans for all drivers.

It also suggests that greater use of highway engineering solutions, such as rumble strips and automotive technological innovations can reduce distracted driving accidents.

(Original Source: Fox News)

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Contributed by Michael Heaney on 08-Jul-2011 17:47
The accidents that did not happen cannot be counted.

Since we already agree that the behaviour of using mobile phones is distracting and dangerous, it is therfore obvious that drivers should not do it.

The application of legislation has the effect of demonstrating society's recognition of the danger and disapproval for such behaviour.
Nanny state advice that we should "clunk click" every trip, or avoid texting is dismissed as government interference in personal decision making.
Enacting a law demonstrates much more - that such behaviour is dangerous and potentially lethal for the individual and other road users, and will not be tolerated.
Of course Alan is right - a law has to be properly enforced and carry sufficient sanction to be effective.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, generations of loving mothers happily had all their young children unrestrained in the back seat of their car, and their latest dearest bonny bouncing baby on their lap in the front seat.
Eventually, after a sufficient number of infants had been projected head first through the windscreen to their death the government introduced a law requiring children to be safely retrained in correctly fitting seats in the rear of the car.

Now that there is a law addressing this responsible parents do not allow their kids to travel in such an unsafe manner. To be found acting in such a manner is seen as poor parenting and delinquent.

There are various maturity models that recognise how people go through stages of understanding and engagement with these laws - initial ignorance and rejection, then avoidance, then grudging compliance due to rigorous enforcement, then gradual recognition of its effectiveness, then voluntary adherence, then wholehearted approval, and ultimately -championing of the behaviour.

It can take an entire generation to make a societal change.

There was a time when stuffing children up chimneys was considered acceptable behaviour and when flogging them in school was a "normal" part of education

A time when otherwise well adjusted people, pillars of society, considered that drinking and driving was no more than a game of cat and mouse with the police.

Now many young people who have grown up and been educated with this as a societal norm do not consider drinking and driving to be an option.
Such antisocial behaviour is now considered to be vulgar and shameful.

Driving your vehicle without due care and attention is equally contemptible behaviour.

If it requires legislation, and enforcement to make the self absorbed driver restrain themselves and check their behaviour, and pay attention as they hurtle down the highway then that is a good thing.

We only need laws and enforcement until people develop sufficient awareness and are able to control themselves.

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Contributed by Stephen Bailey on 08-Jul-2011 11:29
So, I have been caught on th mobile, by two police officers in uniform, but in an unmarked car.

We did a deal at the roadside and I opted for the training course rather than the points.

The class was good fun, the "anti this legislation" sentiment was huge and the most important part of the day was picking up all the tips on how to avoid being caught again.

The logic of a ban on using mobiles whilst driving (unless the use is handsfree - which doesn't actually mean you can't use your hands) is equally applicable to :

1. Talking to your passengers in the car
2. Smoking while driving
3. eating while driving
4. drinking (non-alcoholic) while driving

There is a catchall componant in the legislation that allows a police officer to pull you for any of the above, but if we've singled out speaking in the past, we should legislate for all of it now.

Or alternatively, we can invite our Chief's of Police to focus their resources more into the frontline of real crime. However, that may impact of the profitability of the main beneficiary business of the driving courses - The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

Contributed by Milton Rodrigues on 08-Jul-2011 11:28
hi Norman,

I wonder what the Stats are for :-

Using a Mobile hand phone to one's ear, ( No Hands-Free used )

whilst also

Eating a Burger ( no brand in particular ) stuffed into one's gob ? :) :)

God gave us 2 hands ... For the Steering Wheel, I'd say ...


Contributed by Norman Feiner on 08-Jul-2011 10:47
Thanks for commenting & I agree that enforcement should be paramount.

However, I do know people who have been fined (& possibly given 'points' too) for talking on their hand-held phones whilst driving.

Indeed the police in my local N.W.London area are often seen waiting at specific 'hot-spots' & on the lookout for this specific offence.

Contributed by Alan Stevens on 08-Jul-2011 10:44

Surely the issue is not legislation, but enforcement?
We have a ban on mobile phone use here in the UK, but we all see people using phones while driving. I don't know anyone that has been prosecuted for it.
A widely-flouted law is the same as no law at all.

Best wishes


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