Drivers Ignoring Cell-Phone Bans?

New stats in Washington, D.C., suggest that drivers are largely ignoring the District's three-year-old ban on using hand-held phones while driving: "Obviously the ...
by | November 28, 2007

Cellphone New stats in Washington, D.C., suggest that drivers are largely ignoring the District's three-year-old ban on using hand-held phones while driving:

"Obviously the enforcement is stronger, but it's also obvious that people aren't abiding by the law. And they should," said D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican who co-sponsored the law in 2004.

Through October, officers issued 9,484 tickets this year to motorists driving with a cell phone in their hand, according to police statistics.

The number of citations already issued this year is 13 percent more than the 8,358 issued last year. In 2005, police issued 7,523 tickets to drivers using cell phones.

But is this a surprise? When New York City first instituted a similar ban, cell-phone use by drivers dropped by 50 percent. But the numbers steadily increased after that, even as the number of citations increased as well.  Same thing apparently happened in D.C. -- an initial falloff, but then a return to pre-ban levels of cell usage.

A quick look around the Interwebs shows similar experiences in Connecticut, New Jersey, and elsewhere. Should cities and states drop these laws that aren't being enforced or followed? Or should they, for example, increase fines to make this a more serious offense?

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