More and more states, and a number of local jurisdictions, have passed laws outlawing the use of cell phones while driving. Invariably, exceptions are made for talking on a cell phone if a hands-free device is used.
However, no scientific data exist to indicate that enforcement of these laws will reduce traffic accidents. In fact, a Highway Loss Data Institute study found “no reductions in crashes after hand-held phone bans take effect.”
“The laws aren’t reducing crashes, even though we know that such laws have reduced hand-held phone use, and several studies have established that phoning while driving increases crash risk,” says Adrian Lund, president of both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an independent, nonprofit, scientific, educational organization, and its affiliate, HLDI.
Why? Because when drivers talk on cell phones, the risk of crashing is about the same whether the device is hand held or hands free. Talking on the telephone, or anything which takes the driver’s attention away from the road, causes the distractions that lead to accidents.
So why the rush to pass laws banning driving while talking on hand held cell phones? Walk into any store in a state where such a law has taken effect and you will find your answer. Every retail outlet of any size, whether it normally carries such merchandise or not, offers a huge display of Bluetooth headsets for sale, ranging in price from $20 to more than $100.
Suddenly you see the blinking blue light on everyone, including senior citizens who only recently figured out how to use a cell phone and folks who only carry their devices for emergencies and rarely use them.
The manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of hands-free headsets in states where the laws have passed make a killing convincing those who would never have a reason to acquire one they must now attach a wireless device to their ears. And, of course, government entities who survive on funding from writing tickets (more on that in a future post) will have another revenue stream.
Law for corporate profit — how our government operates these days.