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Cell Phone Driving Bans Don't Always Work

They have to be buttressed by education and enforcement

TUESDAY, Feb. 10, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Outlawing the use of handheld cell phones while people are driving doesn't work in the long run without a sustained enforcement and publicity campaign, says a study in the current issue of Injury Prevention.

Researchers observed the cell phone behavior of more than 50,000 drivers in four New York State communities and more than 28,000 drivers in two communities in Connecticut. Drivers were observed a month before a handheld cell phone ban was introduced in New York in November 2001, again shortly after the ban was put in place, and 16 months later.

In Connecticut, there was no change in drivers' use of handheld phones while driving. In New York, the ban halved handheld cell phone use while driving, from 2.3 percent to 1.1 percent. But a year later, cell phone use among New York State drivers had increased again to 2.1 percent, nearly the level it was before the ban.

The study found this return to cell phone use while driving was typical of both men and women, people under 60, and car and van drivers alike.

The study authors suggest this relapse was the result of a lack of continuing publicity and enforcement after the ban took effect. Other research in the United States suggests these two factors are essential in maintaining compliance with this type of ban.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about cell phones and driving.

SOURCE: BMJ Specialist Journals, news release, Feb. 9, 2004
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