Our last week’s series on distracted driving and technology was interrupted by a discussion of the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in Lebron v. Gottlieb, striking down damage caps in medical malpractice actions. Our Chicago car accident attorneys will continue the series this week.
The premise behind banning texting or cell phone usage while driving is to prevent catastrophic motor vehicle accidents and wrongful death caused by distracted drivers. On the heels of the new ban on texting while driving for truck and bus drivers, the Highway Loss Data Institute (HDLI), an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), released a study which raises doubt on the impact of such bans. In short, the study found no drop in traffic crashes in three states, Connecticut, New York and California, as well as the District of Columbia, after those states banned drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving.
This study seems to conflict with previous research from IIHS showing that drivers using handheld cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in serious crashes. According to Adrian Lund, president of IIHS and HLDI, the “key finding is that crashes aren’t going down where handheld phone use has been banned.” He posits that crash rates may not have decreased because people switched to hands-free devices after handheld phones were banned, [and]we know that people talking hands-free are really not much safer than people talking handheld.”
At best, the study demonstrates that more research is needed. It only focused on crashes reported before and after bans on the use of hand-held phones. It did not look at other factors, such as the use of Bluetooth devices. Other research has demonstrated that using Bluetooth, or other hands-free methods, does little to prevent distracted driving. A driver still has to touch a button, speak or perform other visual, manual and cognitive functions that divert concentration.
The study should not been seen as a means to stop enacting laws to prevent distracted driving, but rather as evidence that further research is necessary. Technology has become an integral part of every day life, so it is going to be important to enact more effective laws so the roads are safer for all.
Distracted driving that contributes to or causes a serious accident may constitute negligence. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another, contact Passen & Powell’s Chicago car accident attorneys at (312) 527-4500 for a Free Consultation.