Last week the Highway Loss Data Institute reported that banning hand-held mobile phones in the USA appeared to have no effect on road accidents. It compared insurance claims for crash damage in four areas before and after bans, noting that claim rates were similar to nearby areas that didn't have such bans.
Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the HLDI, said "The laws aren't reducing crashes, even though we know that such laws have reduced hand-held phone use, and several studies have established that phoning while driving increases crash risk. So the new findings don't match what we already know about the risk of phoning and texting while driving. If crash risk increases with phone use and fewer drivers use phones where it's illegal to do so, we would expect to see a decrease in crashes. But we aren't seeing it. Nor do we see collision claim increases before the phone bans took effect. This is surprising, too, given what we know about the growing use of cellphones and the risk of phoning while driving. We're currently gathering data to figure out this mismatch."
The US Secretary of Transportation has responded with a blog post that says the HLDI study "irresponsibly suggests that laws banning cell phone use while driving have zero effect on the number of crashes" and adds "not explaining likely reasons for the surprising data encourages people to wrongly conclude that talking on cell phones while driving is not dangerous".