A controversial new study suggests that banning handheld cell phones may not significantly decrease the risk of traffic accidents in Atlanta and nationwide. The experts say that distracted driving of all types is the real problem.
The study was conducted by The Highway Loss Institute, a nonprofit organization funded by the car insurance industry. They looked at car wreck data in four states with cell phone bans and compared the crash data both before and after the bans took place.
This study contradicts a larger Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study that found drivers using handheld telephone are about three times more likely to be in an accident or near accident than drivers who are not. The study found the risk increased to almost 23 times while texting.
The authors of the new study propose that the danger of cell phones has more to do with the distraction they provide than with the handheld aspect. They imply that replacing handheld cell phones with hands free devices does not necessarily reduce the risk of an accident. They propose that any distraction increases the risk of accident, whether it is texting, hands-free calling, adjusting a GPS, eating a bagel, or disciplining children.
They propose that more needs to be done to educate drivers about the risks of driver distraction. You can read more here.
In Georgia, only school bus drivers are prohibited from using cell phones while driving. The Georgia House of Representatives is currently considering a ban on texting.