Rhode Island Personal Injury Lawyer Asks: “Do Cellphone Bans Really Work?”
As a Rhode Island personal injury lawyer who specializes in settling car crashes and auto accidents in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, cellphones, smartphones, iPhones, Androids and driving go together like blowtorches and gasoline.
Everyone agrees that distracted driving due to cell phone use is dangerous. But when cellphone use is banned on our roadways, does it make the roads any safer?
You’d be surprised to know the answer to this one…
Rhode Island Personal Injury Lawyer: Should Cell Phones Be Banned?
According to a recent study form the University of Illinois…it depends.
In the study, it was found that over the long-term, cellphone bans were associated with a relative decrease in car accident rates in urban areas such as those near us like Providence, New Bedford, Fall River, Brockton and Boston.
But in very rural areas, cellphone bans did the exact opposite.
They actually led to higher car accident rates.
To this Rhode Island personal injury attorney who covers some fairly rural areas in southeastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Cape Cod, this is puzzling…until you read into the data.
Urban Cell Phones: Bad, Rural Cell Phones: Good?
According to the study leader and University of Illinois professor of mathematics and computer science Sheldon H. Jacobsen, it comes back to the location of the cell phone usage. Jacobsen states, “If you look around and it’s a busy street, it’s a good idea to put the cellphone down and not use it when driving.”
The distracted driving study is different than many other studies on the subject due to two primary factors: the study length and the methods of measuring driver danger.
The landmark study looks at the longer term trends of car accident rates in upstate New York, which is the first state to enact a cellphone driving ban, with many other states even recently following suit. The data was compared to similar data from the state of Pennsylvania, a state that does not have a cell phone ban.
Because both states have similar weather patterns, the study was set up in a way in which the comparative results are some of the best longer term study data on cell phone distracted driving ever assembled.
According to Jacobsen, “Most other studies focus on a very short-term analysis, a law is enacted; what’s the impact immediately? We try to take a much longer view and look at the impact not just over six months to a year, but over several years.”
In this study, researchers looked at the number of licensed drivers per mile of roadway in the state to estimate traffic volume. As a result, the researchers categorized counties in both state according to three separate segments: urban, rural or very rural. The researchers then hunted for statistical differences among all three road category types by state.
Cell Phone Bans Increase Car Accidents?
Amazingly, when a cell phone ban is enacted, all three types of roadways experience higher accident rates across all three classes. This was then followed by a steeper decline than was expected. In urban areas there was a clear correlation between cell phone bans and car accident injuries as well as personal injury claims over the course of seven years.
The evidence was equally clear in very rural areas, cellphone bans resulted in higher car accident rates in the same period of time.
Does the data suggest we should not ban cell phone use in rural areas?
The point is that when driving on rural or very rural roads in America, there is far less supervision by law enforcement official including police, which leads to less worry about cell phone bans and usage punishment.
The difference could also have to do with rural areas having a lower overall incidence of car accidents on the whole, leading to a statistical anomaly.
Rhode Island Personal Injury Lawyer Weighs In on Cell Phone Bans
The evidence is clear; in urban areas cellphone bans reduce the amount of personal injuries related to car accidents, whereas in more rural areas, the enforcement may be best administered on a case-by-case basis.
In my Massachusetts and Rhode Island personal injury attorney practice, the vast majority of car accident injury claims do occur in cities like Providence, New Bedford, Fall River and even densely populated areas like Warwick and Cranston.
On Cape Cod, the most car accidents we deal with as personal injury lawyers in Cape Cod occur in more densely populated areas like Hyannis, Falmouth and even Wareham.
Regardless of where you live and especially in urban areas and towns in Rhode Island, Massachusetts or Cape Cod, driving while distracted leads to increased personal injury claims.
So take precautions. Store your cell phone away and keep both eyes on the road at all times.
But if you do get into a car accident and you may feel that you have been the victim of a distracted driver, then contact our office or call us at 1-800-200-7752. As Massachusetts and Rhode Island personal injury lawyers, we can help you sort it all out.