It is not uncommon to be told many times by many people when you are younger that you should never drive and use your cellphone at the same time. The reason is because any distraction, especially when your eyes leave the road for the screen, increases your risk of getting in an accident. But will banning cellphones when driving really help? According to researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, it may depend on where you are.
The researchers looked at accident reports across seven years for New York state and Pennsylvania, which have similar weather and counties with various sizes and densities. Also Pennsylvania does not have a cellphone ban while New York does. The results of the analysis showed that in urban counties, after an initial increase in accidents, the number dropped significantly, which is what proponents of the bans want to see. In very rural areas though, the trend was for accidents to increase in the presence of the ban.
The researchers are not sure why there would be an increase as a result of the ban. Potentially it could be due to unknown factors or is just an anomaly in the data. Until the exact reason can be determined though, the research appears to suggest that cellphone bans should be considered on a county-by-county basis, instead of as a single, sweeping law.