Will banning drivers from using cellphones reduce distraction?

Talking on cellphone while driving

Photo by philcampbell

A new law in Illinois has widespread support but it may not reduce crashes. The Chicago Tribune reports:

The role of cellphones in distracted driving remains as unclear as wireless phone signals in the hills and hollers. Some research suggests holding a cellphone to the ear creates the same level of distraction as using hands-free technology. Or that both versions have the same distraction level as being drunk. Or that crash rates remain the same with or without drivers using cellphones. Or that crashes decline in densely populated areas after handhelds are banned.

“We don’t really know the full answer” to the uncertainty over cellphones’ impact on driver distraction, said Russ Rader, spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, IIHS. “There is some conflicting evidence.”

The crucial point, Rader suggested, is that cellphones are only one distraction for drivers, who have their attention diverted by spilling or sipping coffee, gobbling a sandwich, fiddling with the radio, or daydreaming, among other activities. It’s been that way for decades, Rader and others note.

I prefer broad based driver education over enforcement; there are plenty of distractions while driving that lead to accidents. Lack of sleep and a particularly gripping podcast are my biggest weaknesses.

Hands-free cellphones for drivers may not be attention-getter