The Big Story Blog

Why a cell ban while driving might not make us safer

Posted at 12:36 PM on December 14, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Transportation

Washington Post's Wonkblog today takes a look at the state of New York's efforts to ban cell phone use while driving and concludes that the national ban proposed by federal highway safety officials probably will not do much to make us safer on the roads.

The Post writes:

There's not much in the way of evidence that laws restricting cellphone use actually make our roads safer. Much of the academic research has focused on New York State, which passed the country's first ban on hand-held cellular devices while driving in 2001.

The law has not, according to a 2010 study in Transportation Research, reduced the number of car accidents. And that's probably because the law didn't reduce the use of cellphones. The Institute for Highway Safety found, in a separate 2004 study, that cell phone use dropped for about a year after the law passed, but then rebounded to levels similar to before the law was passed.

Other restrictions, like texting bans, turn out to be nearly impossible to enforce.


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.