All of this good news for those who supported the California ban on cell phones for drivers but is a burr in the saddle for opponents and naysayers who continue to suggest that distracted driving is not even close to being dangerous. Unfortunately for the latter group repeated studies have shown that distracted driving results in more traffic fatalities each year than driving under the influence of alcohol. That startling statistic means that eventually all states are likely to come around to accepting that distracted driving bans are not only a good idea, but a requirement if they plan on keeping drivers safe on their roads.
Breaking down the study by years, in the first year alone after the cell phone ban, the CHP reported 700 fewer fatal accidents, and that there were 75,000 to 100,000 fewer collisions–the biggest single year-to-year drop in the history of the state.
Though the base fine for being caught driving with a phone in your hand is still only $20, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed an increase last year on the grounds that the law is working because it is strictly enforced.
Part of the study used a statewide census of police-reported traffic crashes to produce the first analysis of its kind in the nation. Its findings were restricted to accidents caused specifically by drivers using hand-held cellphones and concludes that 70-80 lives were saved and about 5,000 injuries prevented in the first two years of the ban.