Banning cell phone use may prevent collisions

Dec 15, 2011

That phone call can wait, especially if you are driving, said the National Transportation Board Tuesday. In Washington, using a hand-held phone while driving became a first offense in 2010.

The National Transportation Board asks each state to ban the use of electronic devices while driving, like cell phones or mp3 players. The board thinks reducing the use of hand-held devices will reduce the amount of collisions.

Washington State Department of Transportation collects data on the “contributing circumstances” in collisions, like speeding, eating, or (you guessed it) using a cell phone. Since Washington law enforcement made cell phone use while driving a primary offense, the number of cell phone related collision has declined. Here is a breakdown of cell-phone related contributing circumstances:

2007 (before any law banning phone use):

  • 1,200 collisions in Washington
  • 367 in King County
  • 95 in Spokane County

2010 (with the ban in affect)

  • 737 collisions in Washington
  • 200 in King County
  • 56 in Spokane County

Let’s break down that math. In those years, collisions related to cell-phone use dropped by nearly 40%. The amount of fatal or serious injuries dropped by 24%. In just one city, like Spokane, the numbers don’t seem significant, but on a statewide level, that’s a lot of collisions prevented.

The National Transportation Board would like to ban hands free gadgets as well. In Washington, those collision statistics are not as strong. But for now, drivers can decide whether to pick up that blue-tooth call or now.