California sees roadway fatalities decrease after handheld cell phone ban

Berkeley, CA – Fatalities associated with handheld cell phone use declined nearly 50 percent and traffic deaths declined 22 percent overall in the two years following a July 2008 handheld cell phone ban in California, according to a new study (.pdf file) released March 2 by the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

Researchers examined crash records for the two years before and after the state implemented the law and discovered a similar reduction of nearly 50 percent among hands-free cell phone-associated fatalities. The findings suggest the California cell phone ban directly impacted the fatality rates in the state after comparing crash data before and after the ban, researchers said.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, California’s current cell phone law makes driving with a hands-free device a secondary offense for young drivers, meaning drivers can be ticketed only after first being pulled over for a different offense.

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