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Fighting Distracted Driving Efficiently
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - States that have cellphone bans for drivers don't actually see decreases in the amount of car crashes according to a new study put out by the Highway Loss Data Institute.
The fact is, in some of those states, the number of crashes actually went up after those bans were put in place.
The Highways Loss Data Institute says of course driving with a cellphone is dangerous, they're not trying to prove that is isn't. But they say that these finding mean when state's like Iowa try to pass legislation that makes it a more serious offense to be caught driving while using your cellphone, it might not be as effective as everyone hopes it would be.
When the Iowa State Legislature was last in session, Senator Rob Hogg was supporting a bill that would make driving while texting a primary offense, meaning a police officer could pull over a driver just for seeing them looking down at their phone.
"The Iowa Senate passed that legislation, to make it a primary offense. It was not passed in the Iowa House," said Senator Hogg.
It's the kind of legislation that the Highway Loss Data Institute has been studying. The Institute is funded by auto insurance companies to find out how to reduce crashes.
"We look at whether laws that are passed are effective at making the roads safer," said Spokesperson Russ Rader.
They looked at data from 2010, comparing four states that passed bans on cellphone use in cars with states that didn't.
Not only did they not see a reduction in your chances of getting into a car crash, "but in three of the four states we studied, crash risk went up," said Rader.
Rader says the thing to take away form this is that it's clear that distracted driving is much larger than just cellphone use.
"So carving out one piece of it and banning it, focusing on phones, isn't going to solve the distracted driving problem," said Rader.
Hogg says that might be true, but by carving out cellphones, you're still addressing a big chunk of those crashes, and Iowa's roughly 300 traffic fatalities per year.
"There's lots of ways we can continue to drive that number down but without addressing texting while driving that makes it very difficult to continue to drive that number down," said Senator Hogg.
The Institute says what might be more effective is actually using more technology. They say crash avoidance systems in cars that let people know when they're about to crash might be more effective, and there's already data to back that up. Rader says if that trend continues, buying cars with those features could lower your car insurance rates.