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Cell Phone Restrictions Help Reduce Car Accidents -- At Least in California

The McClellan Law Firm

In July 2008, California banned handheld cell phone use while driving. Now, over three years later, it is clear that this ban has helped contribute to a decrease in distracted driving deaths throughout California state.

The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) commissioned a study conducted by the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) at UC Berkeley. Researchers examined state car accident records two years before the ban was enacted and the two years following the enactment. Looking at that four year period, the study revealed that deaths caused in accidents involving handheld cell phone use dropped by 47 percent, and fatal traffic accidents in California overall dropped 22 percent.

Based on the significant drop, the director of SafeTrec noted that "the law banning hand-held cell phone use while driving had a positive impact on reducing traffic fatalities and injuries."

Coinciding with this drop is a general decline in cell phone use while driving. Last summer, California drivers told OTS in a survey that they are taking less on their phones while in the car since the ban was enacted in 2008. A separate survey conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found similar results in states that have placed limitations on cell phone use in cars.

The OTS is pleased with the results, but has stated that there are still many California drivers talking on cell phones and texting while driving. It is important for all motorists to be aware of the dangers of distracted driving and to watch out for drivers that might be distracted by electronic devices.

Source: Office of Traffic Safety Press Release, " Cell Phone Distracted Driving Deaths Down Since Laws Enacted," 3/5/12.