LaHood: Cellphone Laws Reduce Distracted Driving Dangers

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Monday that strict laws governing cellphone use while driving combined with highly visible police enforcement tactics have proven effective in reducing distracted driving dangers.

The Transportation Department funded two programs in Hartford, Connecticut, and Syracuse, New York, to investigate whether the combination of a strong public relations campaign and strict enforcement of cellphone laws would reduce distracted driving.

The public relations campaigns promoted the slogan "Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other," and police in the target cities were instructed to strictly enforce laws banning talking or texting while driving. The campaigns resulted in more than 19,000 tickets in New York and Connecticut.

"These findings show that strong laws, combined with highly visible police enforcement, can significantly reduce dangerous texting and cellphone use behind the wheel," LaHood said.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigators monitored the campaigns and conducted surveys to measure their effectiveness.

According to NHTSA reports, cellphone use while driving dropped by 57 percent and texting while driving fell by almost 75 percent in the Hartford survey. In Syracuse, surveys revealed that cellphone use and texting while driving was reduced by one third.

These findings conflict with the results of a recent study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which reported that cellphone bans do not reduce rear-end collisions and that texting bans may actually cause an increase in crashes.