Study Finds Many Drivers Ignore Bans On Handheld Cell Phones

10.14.09 | FL News Team

When it comes to state bans on use of handheld cell phones while driving, many motorists think they're just for the other guy. That's the bottom line in a newly released Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study. Researchers took a look at cell phone use in the District of Columbia, New York and Connecticut, all places where phoning and texting while driving are banned. In DC, the study found the proportion of drivers using hand-held phones fell by about half when a ban took effect in 2004 but has since edged up somewhat. New York banned hand-held phones while driving in 2001 and Connecticut did the same in 2004. Phone use by motorists fell by 47-percent in New York and by 76-percent in Connecticut. Since the laws took effect, use of handheld devices has been creeping back up in both.

In Connecticut and New York, handheld phone use is higher among women than men and highest among drivers under the age of 25. Only one-percent of drivers age 60 or older were seen using phones in those states. The IIHS study concludes "Many drivers still use handheld phones, even where it's banned, and other drivers just switch to hands-free phones for which the crash risk is about the same."