Study: Hands-free Phones are Lifesavers

California's hands-free mobile phone law goes into effect on July 1st. Starting on that date, California drivers will no longer be able to use hand-held phones, but will instead either need to use a hands-free device, whether it's a headset or integrated into the car.

A study released Monday by the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) estimates that California will have 300 fewer traffic fatalities a year once the law goes into effect. According to Jed Kolko, PPIC research fellow and study author, if such a ban were extended across the U.S., thousands of lives could be saved.

In a study released Monday, Jed Kolko, a fellow at the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, estimated that 300 fewer people will die each year in traffic accidents as a result of a pending hand-held cell-phone ban for California drivers. More than 4,000 people die in traffic accidents in the state every year.

Although he prepared no estimate for how many lives would be saved nationwide if hand-held phone use by drivers was banned in all states, Kolko said, “You’d be safe to say several thousand.”

Kolko’s study is sure to fuel two debates that have existed since cell phones became a common companion of drivers in the 1990s: whether phone use by drivers contributes to traffic accidents at all and whether hand-held versions are more distracting and dangerous than hands-free phones.

While it's great to see a study of this nature, it seems to be another one of those "common sense" type things. If you are using your cell phone, particularly dialing or holding it to your ear (much less texting), are you paying full attention to the road? We would hope everyone would answer "no." Once again, common sense.
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