Talking bans on handhelds don't cut accident rates

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A US study reviewing laws that ban the use of handheld phones while driving has come up with a surprising result - accident rates are the same as if they are used.

And what's even more surprising, according to the study by the Highway Loss Data Institute, using handfree phones rather than handhelds shows no difference to accidents either.

After reviewing insurance data crash rates in states which have a law in place and comparing them to states and cities that don't, there appears to be no difference between the accident rates.

The HLDI researchers compared monthly collision claims during the months immediately before and after hand held phone use was banned in New York, Washington DC, Connecticut and California.

Adrian Lund, president of the Institute, said: "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."

He said a Canadian study had found a four fold increase in the risk of crashes.

Lund said: "So the new findings don't match what we already know about the risk of phoning and texting while driving." The HLDI expected to see a decrease in crashes. "But we aren't seeing it. Nor do we see collision claim increases before the phone bans took effect." He described the results as "surprising". They're so surprising that the HLDI is going to examine the whole thing again.

He said: "This finding doesn't auger well for any safety payoff from all the new laws that ban phone use and texting while driving."

* In Bangalore, India you see some remarkable things. I once nearly got ran over by a guy riding a scooter with wife and child on the back - none of them wearing crash helmets. He was texting as he rode and looking down at the phone.