The four-year-old ban on using a new or old cell phone while operating a motor vehicle in the state of California has been declared a success with a significant drop in traffic deaths of as much as 22 percent over the period that the ban has been in force. A new study from the University of California, Berkeley, which was released on Monday, also shows that the deaths which were directly blamed on motorists using cell phone while driving was down by 47 percent, with a similar fall for drivers who use hands free devices instead.
The Safe Transportation Research and Education Centre of the university found that that there was also a similar fall in the number of injuries caused by drivers using cell phones. The findings came as no surprise to the university or to state legislatures. “When you ban something, you’re going to have less of it,” notes Republican Senator Doug LaMalfa. “Of course the numbers are going to go down.” LaMalfa says that police should be concentrating on drivers that drive erratically for any cause, be it use of cell phones, shaving, putting on makeup or changing CDs.
“Distracted driving fines can and do save lives,” adds Democrat Senator Joe Simitian, who believes that a higher financial penalty could result in an even bigger fall. “As good as these numbers are, they could be better.”