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I think some studies have shown that it's the process of engaging in conversations that distracts the driver, not holding the phone. Thus, it's reasonable to expect that only banning hand-held phones would not affect the accident rate that much.

In addition to that, I'm not so sure that people are always following the law. I continue to see drivers using hand-held cell phones while behind the wheel. I'm doubtful whether the percentage of drivers who are using hand-held cell phones has really dropped that much. I don't know how one would verify this because a survey that relied on self-reporting by drivers would be unreliable.

It's better to have the law than not to have the law but I agree that more needs to be done with driver education and changing the culture. Enforcement is difficult until the driver actually gets in a crash and is discovered holding a cell phone.

It's definitely talking on the phone that is the problem (not the hand holding of it). You're brain has to focus in a different way when the person isn't there with you. I also agree that there is a lot of non-compliance, but according to observations they did, there was a reduction in drivers who were driving while holding cell phones after the law passes.

"The step to take next is not to stop the process of banning distracted driving, but to expand what qualifies as distracted driving to include hands-free phones"

I disagree. As with all of these bans, they require a cop to see what's going on and decide it's worth his/her time to chase the person down. The thing to do is increase the penalties (jail time/fine) for ANY crash, regardless of cause, to the point that there's no choice but to slow down and pay attention. Going at it piecemeal will take forever and there will always be things (e.g., sneezing) that will not be "ban-able".

Sure, there is room for improvement on the enforcement end, but we know that some people will stop using cell phones when they drive if it becomes illegal, and there is a lot of political momentum to change the law, whereas a significant increase in penalties for negligent driving is going to be hard to secure (not that I'm against it mind you).

I want to know what the effect of cell phone bans is on the number of bike and pedestrian crashes. Many drivers don't expect to see bicyclists and pedestrians. It's one thing to be on the phone when everything's predictable. You just have to stay in your lane and watch out for cars braking in front of you, right? Auto-pilot works fine then. But when you encounter a slow moving bicyclist or a pedestrian in the crosswalk (or not in a crosswalk) auto-pilot doesn't work. You have to be alert. You also may have less margin for error.

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