No surprise: Hands-free phones no safer while driving

Since most travel, for business or fun, is by motor vehicle, I am going to continue harping on the subject of using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. Today, the AAA Mid-Atlantic motor club alerted us to a study by the Highway Loss Data Institute that shows that motor vehicle crash rates have not gone down in four jurisdictions that have enacted laws requiring drivers to use only hands-free cell phones. As AAA's Catherine Rossi said in a news release accompanying the study "the distracting factor is the conversation -- not the device itself." Find the institute's study here,

 I first endorsed a ban on all phone use while behind the wheel, with or without a hands-free device, on this blog and in the Winging It column almost 13 months ago. That was before the New York Times started its ongoing series "Driven to Distraction," or other media picked up on the issue, or the U.S. Department of Transportation began a campaign against texting or talking at all while driving. Substantial progress has been made, with many more cities and states banning texting or handheld phoning while a vehicle is moving, or banning any use by drivers under 18 years old. 

That's good, as far as it goes. Sooner or later, after quite a few more highway traffic deaths caused by distracted driving, we're going to come to our senses and adopt a ban for everyone regardless of age.