Researchers from two Florida universities compared the number of traffic fatalities with each state’s laws regarding handheld electronic devices. The team hoped to prove cell phone bans reduced traffic accidents and along with it, injuries and death. Their findings were surprising.
Study compared fatality rates from all states
The researchers looked at traffic fatalities from all 50 states from 2005-2015. The state’s laws regarding cell phone use were divided into groups of strong, moderate and weak bans.
States with stronger bans had fewer motorcyclist fatalities
The study revealed states with moderate to strong bans on handheld electronic devices had lower motorcycle fatality rates than states with no bans. Some states with stronger bans had as much as an 11 percent lower fatality rate for motorcyclists.
Though these were not the results the researchers sought, these findings certainly indicate cell phone bans are making the roads safer for motorcyclists. This is particularly good news for motorcyclists.
Motorcyclists are much more likely to die in a crash
While new automobile technology has decreased motor vehicle fatalities over the years, the same has not been true for motorcycles. There are many more motor vehicles on the road than motorcycles, and these vehicles travel much farther than motorcyclists. Still, motorcyclists account for a disproportionate number of the deaths on U.S. roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2016, motorcycle accidents ended in a fatality 28 times more often than other vehicle crashes.
Many factors likely contribute to these fatalities
Though some fatalities could be blamed on the lack of increased safety technology for motorcycles, riding a motorcycle is also inherently more dangerous. Motorcyclists do not have as much protection around their bodies as those in vehicles. Motor vehicles are also much larger and heavier than motorcycles. Couple all those things with a distracted driver, it is easy to see why motorcyclists are so vulnerable in an accident with a motor vehicle.
Though distracted driving will continue to be a problem in the future, changing laws may continue to change people’s behavior. For motorcyclists, that could mean the difference between making it home safe and being seriously injured or even killed in a vehicle accident.