By Kelsey McCurry
Posted: 12:05:01 March 3,2010
States all over the country have been banning cell phone use while driving to make the roads a safer place. However, a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute has found that these bans have not reduced accidents. The study compared the number of crashes before the cell phone ban with the number of crashes after.
Laws banning cell phone use while driving varies from state to state. Seven have banned hand-held cell phone use for all drivers, and 19 have banned texting for all drivers. No state has banned hands-free cell phone use for drivers of all ages, although some have for teenagers.
South Carolina lawmakers are now deciding on whether or not to join other states in the bans.
Adam Takach uses his cell phone on a regular basis when he is behind the wheel.
"I am on the go a lot, and when I am in the car I have nothing better to do," says Takach.
The new study examined accidents in four states; California, Washington, Connecticut, and New York before and after the ban was put into place. The study found that while the number of drivers using cell phones while driving dropped 76% to 41%, the number of accidents did not. The study concluded that the real issue on the roads is a bigger problem of distracted driving.
State Senator Jake Knotts says that it's all about being considerate of others on the road, not just yourself.
"People should realize that when you put your key in that ignition switch and turn on that motor that you need to take consideration for yourself and other motorist on the road," says Senator Knotts.
Knotts says that regardless of the new studies findings, he is still determined to pass legislation that will ban texting while driving.
"Anytime that you do not have two hands on that steering wheel and your mind occupied on something else, it's a safety hazard for other people on the road as well as a safety hazard for yourself," says Knotts.
Director of the University of South Carolina Police Ernie Ellis says that no matter what the new study shows, if cell phones are banned while driving, accidents will be reduced, even if other distractions are still present in the car.
"You're driving a 3,000 pound bomb down a strip of concrete at 60 miles per hour, not to give your undivided attention not only to how you are operating that piece of equipment, but how the ones around you are functioning is very very dangerous," says Ellis.
Senator Knotts predicts that the legislature will pass a texting ban this year.
"We'll go with the texting and see how it does and once it has a proven course we can use it to go ahead and ban using a telephone with a hands-free device later on," says Knotts.
So, will Takach stop texting while driving because of a ban?
"More than likely no," says Takach.
However, Senator Knotts hopes others will stop. Regardless of what the new study has found, he feels that if one life is saved because of the ban, then it will be more than worth it.
The bill banning texting while driving or cell phone use all together is currently on the South Carolina Senate's calendar.