Surprising New Study Results on Mixing Driving and Cell Phones
A recent study produced some surprising information about the effect of using a hands free cell phone headset while driving. Many states, including California and New York, have laws which prohibit the use of cell phones while driving, but make allowances for hands free devices. The logic behind this is that having both hands on the wheel instead of one on the wheel and holding a cell phone, would result in better driving. The instincts of both law makers and insurance agencies - and of the many other people worried by distracted driving all around them on the road who supported these laws - said that hands free headsets would be an improvement, at least.
But now, the numbers are starting to come in, and that just isn't the case.
Adrian Lund, the president of the group which performed the study (the Highway Loss Data Institute), expressed their reaction simply.
"We were very surprised," he said. "You know that there should be fewer [crashes]. We were looking for that, and we aren’t seeing that pattern."
Atlanta’s own Clark Howard was inspired to speak up on this topic. The TV host and consumer advocate voiced his outrage at having money from tickets issued under the hands free cell phone laws essentially just going to the state. He also expressed a view that I personally can respect - that any cell phone use is distracting, no matter if people use cell phones hands free or otherwise. If they are talking on the phone while driving, people are not devoting their attention to the task at hand, and they are putting themselves and those around them at increased risk for an accident.
Adrian Lund supported this idea himself. "Our real problem is to do something about the bigger problem of distracted driving," he said, "whether that's cell phones, whether that's the baby crying in the back seat, whether it's the CD you dropped on the floor, whatever it is."
Clark's advice to drivers was to always keep their eyes on the road, no matter what. This is, it seems, a lesson which he is still working to instill in his son, and a lesson most distracted drivers could stand to learn along with Clark's four year old.
It may be a bit early to leap to conclusions based on this study's results. It did not look into the exact circumstances of different crashes, which took place while driving with a hands free device, which drivers were speaking illegally on hand held phones, and which were not speaking on the phone at all. All it establishes is that enacting laws against using hand held phones while driving does not lower the overall crash rate.
"We can’t even see a blip in the data for crashes," said Lund.
If you have been injured by a distracted driver, it is important to contact an experienced Atlanta, Georgia auto accident lawyer immediately. You may be entitled to compensation. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule your free consultation.