Insurance Institute: Cell Phone Bans Don't Reduce Crashes

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According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a private group funded by auto insurers, bans on cell phone use while driving do not reduce the number of car crashes. The finding comes on the heels of the National Transportation Safety Board's recent recommendation that states ban all use of mobile devices while driving, including use with hands free technology.

Distracted driving

The Insurance Institute compared crash rates between states that enforce such bans and those that don't, and found that the bans did not reduce the incidence of automobile accidents, although the bans were found to decrease the amount of phone usage. The Institute found the same was true for texting and in fact, found that some states that enacted texting bans actually saw an increase in crash rates. Institute spokesman Russ Rader believes these findings point to the individual driver being the problem and that "focusing on phones does not deal with the full spectrum of things that distract."

On the other hand, the NTSB points to studies that do show a correlation between cell phone use and car crashes. An NHTSA study showed that distracted driving was responsible for about 3,000 deaths last year. The type of distraction, however, was undetermined in that study. Nevertheless, NTSB spokeswoman Kelly Nantel insists that "the best course of action is a three pronged approach - strong laws, strong education and strong enforcement."

The NTSB's proposal is a cause of concern amongst automakers such as GM, Ford, Hyundai and Toyota, all of which have invested heavily in developing hands free technology for their automobiles. Such systems would also fall under the NTSB's recommended ban if they involve the use of a mobile device, so for example, even if a phone was connected via Bluetooth to the vehicle it would still be banned. Systems such as GM's OnStar would be spared though, because the phone is built in to the vehicle.

Expert's believe the NTSB's proposal will not take hold in many, if any states.

[via CNN Money]