Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Actually, banning calling while driving does have a huge positive effect

The Post today points to new research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on how much DC's law against calling while driving stops people from doing it. They found that use of cell phones would be 43 percent higher than it is if it weren't for the law banning it.

And this fits with survey research (see page 12) suggesting (for what surveying such a question is worth) that a portion of cell phone drivers would stop doing it if it were illegalized in their state.

This all may sound unimpressive, but we're talking about, you know, lives saved. So all the talk about "we need to address this problem by technology, not with laws" (like that op-ed in the NYT last week) seems, to me, off the mark. If we figure out a technological solution to this problem down the line, that's great, but for now, the law is the way to save some lives.

One last point: the criminology types generally say that what makes people break the law is whether they think they will be caught or not -- not the severity of the penalty. So, let's focus on improving the enforcement.


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