Four years ago California lawmakers enacted a sweeping ban on the use of handheld devices by anyone driving a vehicle. This week researchers at UC Berkely released a study which shows that the number of traffic crashes caused by drivers using these devices has declined, something which researchers say is a direct result of the ban.

The UC Berkely Safe Transportation Research and Education Center studied traffic crashes during the two-year period before the ban took effect and compared them to the number and cause of traffic crashes during the two-year period after the ban took effect. They say there was a significant decline in crashes across the board and a decline in crashes specifically involving drivers who were using either a handheld or wireless device while driving.

The study was requested by the California Office of Traffic Safety which said they suspected there was a lower number of crashes and wondered if it could be attributed to the new ban.

The National Transportation Safety Board recently announced that crashes involving distracted driving had eclipsed the number of crashes involving driving under the influence of alcohol. Their report came with admonishment that all states should seek to ban the use of handheld devices, if they hadn’t already. This announcement was met with skepticism by lawmakers in states like Texas who said they felt the decision was best left to local municipalities.

Since the NTSB report was released late last year, states such as Florida, which had also been resisted to a handheld devices devices, have since reversed course. Lawmakers there are finalizing a bill to make a partial effective perhaps as early as this summer.

Regardless of whether or not a ban on handheld devices is enacted in your state, remember the lessons you learned in traffic school about paying attention and driving defensively. You will be glad you did.

Image: Salvatore Vuono /