Study says laws against distracted driving pose an even greater threat

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Jul 16, 2012

A study conducted by a Canadian public policy research group has found that a law against distracted driving has failed to improve road safety within the Manitoba region as highway fatalities have reportedly reached an all-time high during the first full year with the law in place.

According to Frontier Center analyst Steve Lafleur, the findings in Manitoba are consistent with the experiences in other places that have adopted similar legislation. The study even cited the data collected by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which studied the effects of laws against distracted driving in the United States. Based on the IIHS's findings of four states that banned texting while driving (California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington), vehicular accidents that resulted in collisions increased in all four states in comparison with other similar states. The increase was especially noticeable among younger drivers.

The study goes on to say that even hands-free devices pose the same risk as using cellphones since the former often require the drivers to divert their eyes from the road in order to fiddle with the system--like if it's built-in with the car-stereo system. Given that the system is in a fixed position below the windshield, this becomes even more dangerous than using a handheld unit.

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"Laws often have unintended consequences," Lafleur said in the study. "Such is the case with distracted-driving laws. Many drivers will not stop making calls or sending texts even when it is illegal. Instead, they will call and text covertly. In order to avoid police detection, many drivers call and text from areas below their driving field of vision such as their laps. This is even more dangerous, since the road is no longer in their peripheral vision."

Do you agree with these findings?

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