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Study: Cell Phone Bans Don't Lower Car Wreck Stats

12:50 PM, Feb 3, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Laws banning cell-phone use while driving have not lowered crash rates, according to a recent study, puzzling researchers and undoubtedly sending your friendly neighborhood statists scrambling for other studies to justify their meddling ways.

The study was conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, researching four states before and after cell-phone bans— California, Washington, Connecticut, and New York:

“You know that there should be fewer,” he said. “We were looking for that, and we aren’t seeing that pattern,” said Mr. Lund, who is also the insurance institute’s president.

This is the first look at crashes in California, New York, Connecticut and Washington since they passed bans on hand-held cellphone use while driving. One reason Mr. Lund was so surprised was that the institute had previously conducted research that showed that drivers talking on cellphones seemed to be four times as likely to crash.

Researchers did find that cell-phone laws were effective in lowering hand-held cell-phone use between 41 and 76 percent, but no corresponding decrease in wrecks appeared, which makes one wonder why the government is banning this behavior in the first place.

One of the researchers posits, in light of these findings, that "while cellphones are a distraction, maybe they are not 'all that much worse a distraction than many of the other things that we do.'"

Lawmakers will surely use such a conclusion to push for eating-while-driving bans and changing-iPod-playlists-while-driving bans. When they come for your Quarter Pounder with Cheese, show them this blog post, and tell them to leave well enough alone.

Often, as with entitlements, the solution to a government failure is not to apply government more liberally.

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