Traffic deaths due to hand-held cell phone use by drivers have dropped 47% since California enacted a ban in July, 2008.
The analysis, conducted by the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) at the University of California, Berkeley, showed that, when looking at state crash records two years before and two years after the hand-held ban went into effect, overall traffic deaths declined 22 percent while hand-held cell phone driver deaths went down 47 percent. Similar results were shown for hands-free cell phone use as well as injuries in both categories.
“These results suggest that the law banning hand-held cell phone use while driving had a positive impact on reducing traffic fatalities and injuries,” said Dr. David Ragland, Director of SafeTREC.
Contributing to the decline in cell phone deaths and injuries is an overall drop in cell phone usage while driving. A Statewide Intercept Opinion Survey commissioned with federal funds by OTS last summer showed 40 percent of California drivers reported they talk less (handheld and hands free) since enactment of the hand-held cell phone ban. In February 2010, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported similar results from their telephone survey which found that 44 percent of drivers in states with bans reported they don't use phones (hand-held or hands-free) when driving, compared with 30 percent in states without such laws. Further, IIHS observational research found that bans on hand-held phoning while driving can have big and long-term effects in curbing hand-held cell phone use.
“Highly visible and publicized enforcement, along with the cooperation of the motoring public to reduce distractions behind the wheel, has played a significant role in the reduction in collisions,” said California Highway Patrol (CHP) Commissioner Joe Farrow. “In addition, there are many educational programs developed by the CHP, our allied agencies, as well as non-profit organizations such as Impact Teen Drivers that have made sustained efforts in reducing distracted driving.’’ Read more…
Source: California Office of Traffic Safety, New Release – March 5, 2012