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Study shows ineffectiveness of rural cellphone ban for drivers

Distracted drivers can be dangerous on the road, causing accidents through reduced reaction times and a lack of awareness. Cellphone use is one of the most common distractions, with users often devoting both their hands and vision to the phone’s operation. This has led many states to ban the use of the devices while operating a vehicle, but a recent study has shown that such bans are not as effective as one thought, significantly reducing accidents only while driving within a city environment.

An estimated 5,000 road fatalities occur each year nationwide due to distracted driving. New York banned cellphone use while driving in 2001 in an effort to reduce the number of car accidents throughout the state. A 2006 study of cellphone use while driving found users were as impaired as those who had been drinking. As a result of this and other studies, 10 states have banned cellphone use while driving, and 39 states have passed laws prohibiting text messaging while driving.

When studying the effects of the ban however, a recent report published in the Transportation Research journal has shown a decrease in fatalities only in city locales; while the number has actually risen in rural areas since the ban took effect. The reasons behind the rise is currently unknown and may be a statistical anomaly due to the lowered sampling rate in rural accidents, or possibly due to lowered enforcement of the ban in rural areas.

Driving while distracted can lead to accidents, regardless of your environment, and New York drivers who are injured at the hands of a distracted driver have a right to seek compensation from the driver to cover the costs of those injuries. Rural drivers who think they are free to do whatever they want while behind the wheel should think again.

Source: Fox News, “Banning cellphones in cars only helps in cities,” Nov. 19, 2012

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