Cellphone bans for driving may not be effective

By Gary Johnson - Jul 8, 2011

Drivers that use a cellphone while driving can cause heated debates with the rights and wrongs of road safety. In the US it is currently legal to us a cellphone while driving in certain states, and now there are some quarters who think cellphone bans for driving may not be effective.

The Governors Highway Safety Association have urged the 41 states where the practice is legal to stay that way for now, according to an article on USA Today by Larry Copeland. This advice has been given because it is thought more research is needed to see how effective the laws are.

Executive director of GHSA Barbara Harsha said that research on the problem “is conflicting”, and mentioned they are not sure if the bans could make the problem even worse. A report last year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, found no evidence of a reduction in accidents last year after bans came into force in certain states.

But the National Safety Council wants a total ban on the use of cell phones while driving, even with a hands-free device. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration thinks there is enough evidence that using a cellphone is highly distracting while driving.

The study found that drivers are often distracted by other things besides cell phone use, including eating and talking for around fifty percent of the time spent driving. It has been suggested that newly qualified drivers have a total ban on cell phone use.

Across the pond in the UK a total ban was introduced in February 2007, and if caught drivers are given a £60 fine and three penalty points on their driving license. But since the new law was brought into force many drivers continue to us their device while driving.

Countries such as Portugal, Israel, Japan, Singapore, and New Zealand also ban the use of phones while driving. You wonder why in countries or states where it is illegal to use a handheld device while driving, many people still break the law. Hands-free are available from a small price these days with the simple Bluetooth ear piece, or the units that can be wired into your cars sound system such as Parrot devices.

What do you think should there be a total ban on cellphone use while driving? Or is using a hands-free kit ok?

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  • Ira Eisenstein

    I think that this is a case of “one guy (well probably many) screws it up for everybody”….
    A few people have accidents because they can’t concentrate on their call and driving at the same time, so it gets banned for everyone.   We’re not all morons… only some of us.If you can’t “walk and chew gum at the same time”, then you shouldn’t be using a cell phone while driving.For the rest of us that have the mental capacity to handle two tasks at the same time, it shouldn’t be illegal.

  • Ira Eisenstein

    I think that this is a case of “one guy (well probably many) screws it up for everybody”….
    A few people have accidents because they can’t concentrate on their call and driving at the same time, so it gets banned for everyone.   We’re not all morons… only some of us.If you can’t “walk and chew gum at the same time”, then you shouldn’t be using a cell phone while driving.For the rest of us that have the mental capacity to handle two tasks at the same time, it shouldn’t be illegal.

  • Be reasonable and not petty please! I have gone to great trouble and expense to have a minimal destraction handsfree mobile phone device fitted to my car.I travel alot. I have to keep in touch with two teenage children and my firm without causing a solo/multiple traffic accident-give me a break! I think operating my radio and or ventalation controls are a much greater distraction.What are you going to do ? legislate agains

  • Be reasonable and not petty please! I have gone to great trouble and expense to have a minimal destraction handsfree mobile phone device fitted to my car.I travel alot. I have to keep in touch with two teenage children and my firm without causing a solo/multiple traffic accident-give me a break! I think operating my radio and or ventalation controls are a much greater distraction.What are you going to do ? legislate agains

  • I’m uncomfortable with anything that takes the driver’s attention away from what they are supposed to be doing – driving the vehicle.  But there is obviously a qualitative difference between checking your phone when you’re stopped at traffic lights versus doing 65 mph on a busy freeway.  But to invoke the precautionary principle, I think the law should err on the side of caution and restrict cell phone usage to hands-free sets.