Banning cellphone use by drivers might not lower the number of accidents

Banning cellphone use by drivers might not lower the number of accidents
According to a professor who worked on the study, legislation in California from 2008 that banned drivers from using their cellphones while behind the wheel, had no affect on the number of accidents on the road. Professor Daniel Kaffine said that he would have expected a tiny decrease in the number of accidents, even if just a small number of drivers stopped using their phones while behind the wheel.

Professor Kaffine and his crew looked at all of the factors that play a part in accidents, including the introduction of safer cars, a recession that lessens the amount of driving, and changes to traffic laws. Other variables that the team played with included precipitation (wet roads could lead to more accidents), and gas prices (lower gas costs increases traffic on the road and vice versa). While previous studies have stated that using a cellphone while driving was similar to driving while under the influence, Professor Kaffine says that those studies were too clinical and focused on the lab instead of how people would have responded in real life.            

After adding all of these other factors into their computations, it was discovered that banning the use of handsets by drivers contributed nothing toward reducing the number of accidents. Possible reasons for this conclusion include drivers ignoring the law, and drivers switching their tool of distraction from the phone to their car's radio or satellite system.


The actual law took effect on July 1st, 2008 and accidents from January 1st, 2008 to December 31st, 2008 were studied to see if the law helped prevent crashes. The results of the study might be surprising to some, but shouldn't give you the freedom to start sending out tweets while trying to maneuver on California highways during rush hour.

source: ScienceDirect via TheRegister

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9 Comments

1. engineer-1701d unregistered

Ha told you it had nothing to do with it.

2. amiaq

Posts: 509; Member since: Jun 30, 2012

Distracted drivers is dangerous drivers. Any randomised study will be too unethical. Above claim is a weak correlation or evidence.

3. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

The professor is an idiot, for anyone with some gray matter between the ears could figure out that the explosion in smartphones should have led to a proportional increase of accidents if people were stupid enough to use them instead of driving or too dyslexic to coordinate both tasks. People are wiser than professors and legislators.

4. rusticguy

Posts: 2828; Member since: Aug 11, 2012

Sometimes, based on ulterior motives, the results are decided even before study starts. So, the sutudy is designed based on results that are needeed, much like what Ancel Keys did decades ago that drove 2/3 of America in the overweight range. This is what "Good Science Bad Interpretation" is all about

5. cezarepc

Posts: 718; Member since: Nov 23, 2012

IQ test needs to be taken when getting a license.

9. max9777

Posts: 78; Member since: Dec 11, 2011

Agreed LOL. Also a lot of accident's are caused by just making simple mistakes, ignoring blind spots, looking through right mirror while turning left, not turning on your lane departure signals. I live in NYC and I did not see how bad people are at driving until I got my 1st car. It is ridiculous. But those F*ckers never get pulled over. meanwhile I get tickets twice a month for having tints.

6. GreekGeek

Posts: 1276; Member since: Mar 22, 2014

It's called self discipline, some people have it, some people don't.

7. techloverNYC

Posts: 601; Member since: Nov 20, 2012

Yup now I will just use the smartwatch on my wrist to check the text while holding the steering wheels

8. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

The telecoms and mobile device industries pay off a lot of people to make sure they can keep growing.

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