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Are handheld phone bans improving road safety?

On Behalf of | Apr 27, 2023 | Car Accidents |

Thousands of road users are killed in distracted driving accidents in Georgia and around the country each year, which is why laws banning the use of handheld mobile devices while behind the wheel have been passed in most states. However, these laws seem to be having little effect. Research conducted by AT&T reveals that the number of drivers who use their phones to watch videos, play games and engage in online chats has doubled in recent years, and almost a third of the drivers surveyed admitted to engaging in at least one of these dangerous behaviors.

Handheld phone bans

To reduce distraction and deter this kind of behavior, drivers in most parts of the country are prohibited from using handheld devices. States passed these laws because hands-free devices allow drivers to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel when they make or receive phone calls. Handheld phone bans address visual and manual distraction, but they do nothing to prevent cognitive distraction.

Hands-free phone study

The safety benefits of hands-free mobile devices were studied by researchers from the Queensland University of Technology in 2016. The researchers asked volunteers to use hands-free and handheld devices in a driving simulator, and then they observed how well they coped with unexpected events like a pedestrian stepping into the road or a car pulling out. The subjects’ reaction times were 40% slower with either kind of device. This suggests that handheld phone bans are doing little to prevent distracted driving car accidents.

Things are likely to get worse

Distraction is likely to become even more common in the years ahead because automobile information and entertainment systems are becoming more sophisticated and studies show that drivers are happy to use technology while behind the wheel even though they know it is dangerous. Almost all of the drivers surveyed by AT&T said that using mobile devices caused accidents, but 90% of them admitted to engaging in this dangerous behavior on a regular basis.