Although a reverse telephone number lookup service allows users to trace the
origin and source of any call and takes the anonymity away from random
callers, putting the power of information back into your own hands, you
can’t lookup a number or call anyone if you die behind the wheel because you
were distracted by the cell phone in your hand.
A recent study of states with laws prohibiting the use of hand-held cell
phones conducted by the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center at
the University of California at Berkley in California shows that the laws
resulted in 22% decline in overall traffic deaths. The study also found that
fatalities of motorists who used hand-held cell phones decreased by 47 %.
The researchers reviewed the records of traffic crashes two years before and
two years after state bans went into effect, and the results seem to show
that the laws banning hand-held cell phone use while driving have had a
positive impact on reducing traffic fatalities and injuries overall.
Fewer crashes overall could also be due to increased law enforcement though,
as the cost of a ticket in California for a first offense is significant at
around $159 and according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles,
there were 460,487 hand-held cell phone convictions in 2011, up 22% from
2010 and up 52% from 2009. A concerted public awareness campaign in
California seems to have successfully educated drivers that that texting and
talking are the biggest safety concerns on California roadways. A full 84%
of survey respondents in California said they felt cell phone conversations
or texting while driving are the most serious driving distractions, and an
opinion poll showed that four out of ten California drivers said they now
talk less with hand-held phones and hands-free phones since the state’s ban
began in 2008.
The observations in California appear to concur with a telephone survey
conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that found 44% of
the drivers in those states with phone/driving bans reported no longer use
any type of phone, hand-held or hands-free, while driving. This is
contrasted by the 30% of drivers who said they will continue to use both
types of phones behind the wheel in those states that do not have
driving/phone bans. It has often been said, as goes California – so goes the
rest of the nation. Often this has been a disparaging remark, however in the
case of driving while using the phone, going the “way of California” may not
be such a bad thing at all.