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IU Researcher Says Cell Ban Might Not Reduce Crashes

A report released by Indiana University researchers shows a law prohibiting cell phone use by teen drivers has significantly reduced the number of crashes associated with cell phones use. But researchers aren’t confident that trend will continue if a similar law is applied to all drivers.

Indiana legislators are considering a new rule that would limit cell phone use while driving for motorists of all ages. The proposed bill would prohibit texting while driving and is similar to a law already in place banning those younger than 18 from using mobile phones while on the road, except in emergency situations.

IU Public Policy Institute Senior Policy Analyst Matt Nagle said implementing policy changes for teens is an easier task than making such rules for adults.

“Putting a law on the books that aimed at preventing problematic driving behavior is easy to bring about change in this younger group because they don’t’ already have these ingrained behaviors to try to change later on. Whereas in the older age groups, the biggest challenge you’re going to see with an across the board ban on text messaging is going to be changing behavior on the slightly older younger 20s age group these are people who have kind of come up in this technological age and cell phone use is just a part of their daily life,” Nagle said.

Nagle added that the teen ban’s success is not necessarily an indication the new rule is enforceable.

“Since its restricted specifically to text messaging you’ve got an issue of is this person holding their phone down below them, are they just looking down to scratch their leg or are they sending a text message. So it’s an issue of kind of reasonable doubt in the officer’s mind,” Nagle said.

Amendments to the bill may require motorists to use a hands-free device in order to make or receive calls, or could prohibit cell phone use all together.

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