Distracted Driving May Be Rising Despite State Laws

Cell phone distractions account for more than 300,000 car crashes annually, and its causing more and more states to crack down on the use of mobile devices while driving.

But a new study led by Temple University finds a widening gap between the evidence on distracted driving and the laws being passed to address the problem.

Jennifer Ibrahim, the study’s lead author and a professor of public health at Temple, says that despite the increase in distracted driving laws, there is evidence that driver use of mobile devices is increasing.

The researchers analyzed distracted driving laws passed between January 1992 and November 2010, and found that laws varied from state to state based on:

  • Type of mobile communication device (cell phones, laptops, tablet computers),
  • Categories of drivers (by age or by driving permit type),
  • Types or locations of mobile device use.

Enforcement and penalties also varied from state to state; as of November 2010, 39 states plus Washington DC had one or more laws restricting use of mobile devices while driving; 11 states had no laws; and no state outlawed the use of cell phones completely.

“We know that distracted driving is dangerous, yet despite the diffusion of distracted driving laws, there is evidence that driver use of mobile devices is increasing,” said Jennifer Ibrahim in a news release. “Our study is the first step toward understanding which laws really do reduce distracted driving, and thus can reduce related crashes and associated injuries and fatalities.”

For more on distracted driving issues, see the library of articles by Daytona Beach car accident attorney.