A ban on cellphone use in the car, even while using a handsfree kit, was recommended by a Federal agency last week. But such bans are not effective against distracted driving, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (a group of auto insurers).
In states where bans are already in effect against using a handheld phone while driving, there has been no reduction in crash rates (although there has been a reduction in phone use in the car) the Institute found.
The bans are even less effective against texting while driving. Paradoxically, texting bans actually resulted in more crashes in several states, an IIHS study found, CNNMoney reported.
As you may remember, last week the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that States enact complete cellphone bans in the car, outlawing even hands free kits. The recommendation is not expected to cause the States to act on such laws, so the point is a bit moot. But it has stirred up a cauldron of debate on distracted driving.
The Consumer Electronics Association told us that it advocates keeping one’s eyes on the road and a ban against texting while driving. Apart from that, it holds that electronics can contribute to driver safety, said spokesman Jason Oxman.
Wireless carriers such as Verizon and Sprint have been eerily silent on the NTSB recommendation. Even the wireless industry association CTIA said it does not oppose a full cellphone ban for the car.
“We came to the conclusion that with respect to the consumer, it really is best to defer to their choice and their judgment as to what laws should be applied,” CTIA spokesman John Walls told the WSJ.
MERA, the Mobile Electronics Retailers Association says it advocates a “Pocket or Dock-It” approach. The point is to keep the phone out of the drivers’ hands and let technology like Bluetooth and car kits “solve the distraction issue,” said MERA President Chris Cook.
“Concerns over celll and or Smartphone use and the driver’s ability to focus on driving should be addressed through docking the device and connecting it to a hands-free device (i.e. Bluetooth, etc.) that allows for communication without hands-on interaction or leaving the device in your pocket, purse and or out of reach when driving. Simply, ‘Pocket or Dock It’,” says MERA.
A third of Americans often use cellphones while driving, AAA says.
Photo via Reuters