An interesting new study out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology provides some intriguing answers about a question that has troubled Indiana personal injury lawyers – why have cell phone bans failed to dramatically reduce the number of accidents caused by such practices? According to the study, these bans fail, because it is not so much the use of cell phones which causes accidents, but rather the fact that drivers who use cell phones at the wheel tend to be higher-risk drivers.
The researchers say that cell phones may not be the source of the problem. Rather, a category of drivers that frequently uses cell phones while driving is simply a group of drivers that is at a high risk for dangerous driving behavior. These drivers are more at risk for other irresponsible driving practices, like speeding or reckless driving that increases the risks of an accident.
They are also, not surprisingly, more at risk for other forms of distracted driving. Distracted driving refers not only to the use of cell phones or texting devices while driving, but also an entire range of activities that a motorist may perform while he is driving, like snacking, applying makeup, reading newspapers, and so on. All of these activities increase accident risks. A person who is driving while using a cell phone may be at risk of all these activities too.
So, when you take cell phones out of the equation in the form of a cell phone ban while driving, the person simply finds something else to occupy his time. That is probably happening in a lot of states like Indiana which have banned texting while driving and in some cases, the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Taking cell phones out of the picture has not really helped reduce distracted driving practices among a category of motorists that is most frequently at risk for such practices.
It’s not as if all cell phone bans are complete failures. Indiana has banned texting while driving for all drivers, but has not banned the use of handheld cell phones. However, in many states like California, that do have bans on both hand-held cell phones as well as texting while driving, there has been a reduction of this practice, to some extent.
However, cell phone and texting bans have not really coincided with a dramatic reduction in the number of accidents. Accident rates across the country have generally been declining over the past decade, and there are doubts about whether these declines have anything to do with cell phone laws at all.
The Indiana personal injury lawyers at Montross Muller Muller Mendelson and Kennedy represent persons injured in auto accidents across Indiana.