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Why Cell Phone Bans Don’t Actually Work

Cell Phone Bans Don't Work

A new study published by MIT in Boston shows that cell phone bans aren’t as effective as everyone believes because people who talk on their phones while driving may already be unsafe drivers.

The MIT study involved 108 people, and researchers asked the drivers to separate themselves before the study into “frequent users” of their cell phone while driving and “rare users” who only use hands-free devices a few times each month, reports The Daily Mail.

On average, frequent cell phone users drove on average 4.4 kilometers faster, changed lanes twice as much, and engaged in more hard breaking maneuvers than those who rarely talk while driving.

Study leader Bryan Reimer noted that, “These are not ‘oh-my-god’ differences.” The human factors engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge added that:

“They are subtle clues indicative of more aggressive driving. It’s clear that cell phones in and of themselves impair the ability to manage the demands of driving. But the fundamental problem may be the behavior of the individuals willing to pick up the technology.”

The 108 people involved in the study were asked to drive for 40 minutes on Interstate 93 north of Boston. They drove a black Volvo SUV which was decked out with an eye tracker, heart and skin monitors, video cameras, and on-board sensors. notes that Bryan Reimer also stated:

“The people who are more willing to frequently engage in cellphone use are higher-risk drivers, independent of the phone. It’s not just a subtle difference with those willing to pick up the phone. This is a big difference.”

While none of the drivers used phones while driving, the frequent cell phone users tended to drive faster, change lanes more, and spend more time in the far-left lane than those who rarely use phones. The frequent callers also accelerated more rapidly and slammed their brakes more often.

While no one questions the risks involved in using a cell phone while driving, Reimer’s research suggests that the driver’s personality may actually be the more significant risk. Reimer adds that frequent cell phone use while driving could be “an indicator of willingness to engage in risky behavior” in general.

Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington, Virginia, has said that his institution has not seen a drop in traffic accidents despite cell phone bans. Lund stated that, so far, “we have not seen that those bans have reduced crashes.”

Lund also added that the popularity of cell phones has not led to an increase in auto accidents. He also believes that the MIT study could help explain why accident levels have stayed the same. He stated:

“Maybe if they’re not talking on their cellphones, they’ll be distracting themselves with something else.”

Despite MIT’s study, however, State Senator Mark Montigny, a Democrat from New Bedford, has said that he will still support a bill to ban cell phones while driving. Montigny stated:

“If the most irresponsible drivers are consistently irresponsible, fine. You can’t really legislate against irresponsibility or stupidity, but you can at least take away one of the distractions.”

Do you think that cell phone bans are useful, or will distracted drivers simply find something else to keep them occupied?

[Image from ShutterStock]

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26 Responses to “Why Cell Phone Bans Don’t Actually Work”

  1. Randy Rogers

    I notice most people don't even read road construction signs or speed limit signs anymore. Simply ride the left lane with their head up their ass. I drive a commercial vehicle where we can't have a phone in our hand while driving. I believe the law needs to apply to everyone.

  2. Carol Arni Ranck

    All States should follow Illinois and ban cell phone use in the car while driving. If you feel you MUST answer the call or check or send a check a text message then pull over.

  3. Daniel Wallace

    This is actually funny. reason why I say that is if you ban cell phone usage then you should make a law to have a clean vehicle. such as no trash rolling around or papers laying in the passenger seat or purses in or near the driver. all these things need to be locked in the trunk if you have one, if not well tuff shit looks like tickets for you. imma professional driver as it states on my driver license. I see more people doing exactly what this article says. and I will tell you right now that. YES I TEXT AND DRIVE AND YES I HOLD A PHONE UP TO MY HEAD AND DRIVE. but I'm also only driving 60 mph on the freeway as well due to fuel cost in diesel. so if they was to ban cell phone usage. your stuff that you buy on a daily bases would prolly be late or you wouldn't get it at all for the very simple fact is that 90 percent if not greater of the professional drivers out there talk on there cell while driving down the highway to make sure you people have all the shit you want and need. just saying. I still wish this country truck drivers would just stop for 3 short days and see what everyone would do. you people would fall apart that wouldn't have a clue. bwahahahaha yes I find everything funny.

  4. Doug Friend

    Honk if you love Jesus…Text while driving if you want to meet him. What is worth losing your life over? A text message??? Studies show that you are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident when texting and driving…

  5. Lisa Bierre

    Cell phone bans. Whether it actually reduces accidents or not, if a cell phone user causes an accident, the law will put the blame on them. Make their insurance pay, not mine.

  6. Linda Jones McLean

    Cars should have something built in the radio antenna that prevents cell phones from working. I live in TN and it is against the law to text & drive but it doesn't stop anyone who wants to do it. If I can tell they are texting I'm pretty sure the police can but they don't do anything.

  7. Deborah Gavitt

    I pull over, probably 85% of the time….but the 15% of time thereafter can be the time when something deadly could happen…..not a happy thouight…..

    I always pull over when making a call, but when the cell rings….there's times on the road where it can b impossible to pull over due to unsafe road space.

  8. Charlotte Boyd

    People who use their phone (for any reason) while driving are self centered and egotistical. Why do they have the 'RIGHT' to endanger others on the road? It seems more and more accidents that are caused by someone using their phone (where there is a fatality) the one who causes that accident can be charged with vehicular murder or manslauter.Is it worth it? Ask people who have lost someone because of someone else not paying attention.

  9. Peg Bittner

    People just do not care about anyone else but themselves and what is in it for them. No one has the skill to interact with anyone else for the good of all. Everyone has developed into a self contained world.

  10. Lin Moy

    It doesn't matter if it's not cell phones, they still cause accidents and death. Cells are one thing we can stop and should now! I don't have a cell phone and life goes on with out it beleive me.

  11. Lori Shaw-Klevies

    I am not usually in favor of most laws because the government is getting further and further up our asses but I do believe cell phone use of any kind should be illegal while driving.

  12. Kim Gavitt Suminski

    I don't think it should be illegal , as most people dirve with coffee, food, cigarettes . cops use radios, truckers use cb's and standard cars also have drivers steerg with only one hand on the wheel. However texting is different as it takes your eyes off the road.

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