There are a lot of reasons I’m excited to move to California in less than a week. But the statewide ban on cellphone use while driving is not one of them.
I think it’s idiotic and counterproductive, mostly because I don’t like somebody telling me what to do.
I’m also concerned that I’ll forget about the ban at just the wrong moment and get nailed with a ticket. It’ll probably even be my mom or my grandma that makes the call that gets me in trouble.
Now the data are backing me up. Well, sort of. A recent study showed that California’s cellphone ban resulted in only a slight drop — from 66.7 accidents per day to 65.2 statewide — which is statistically minor.
Daniel Kaffine, one of the study’s authors, said:
“We went in there expecting to see something, [but] it was pretty clear to us that there was no compelling evidence of a decrease in accidents.”
Similar research has born out these same results.
On the other hand, California’s Office of Traffic Safety concluded from a UC Berkeley study that the ban had resulted in a 22 percent drop in traffic deaths in the two years following the ban’s implementation. Deaths as a result of hand-held device use are also down, according to the same source. So the data conflict.
One of the ludicrous arguments used by proponents of the ban is that using your cell phone while driving is as bad as being drunk. I’ve since quit texting while driving and instead content myself with watching Breaking Bad reruns and giving myself foot massages.
Here’s the other problem: cellphones are just one distraction. If you’re easily distracted, you’ll find something else to get you in trouble. Your radio, your whining children, the hamburger you dropped between your feet — so many options.
Even Oakland mayor Jean Quan has gotten herself into trouble with this. (The cellphone thing, not the hamburger thing — at least as far as I’m aware.)
It’s possible that crash rates haven’t dropped much because people are just ignoring the ban. But I say let them. Let us. Legislating this issue hasn’t worked, so let’s try something else — like leaving people some of their personal freedoms.