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California drivers finally put down those cellphones and are living to tell the tale

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

San Jose Mercury News

According to a study announced Monday by the state Office of Traffic Safety, since a state law forbidding the use of handheld phones on the road went into effect in 2008, the number of traffic deaths in California declined by 22 percent. With fewer drivers yakking into handheld phones, the death-by-cellphone rate dropped an even more stunning 47 percent.

“Those are huge numbers,” said Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, author of the bill whose outcome the study tracked, while taking a (hands-free) victory lap after the announcement.
During a two-year period after the law was implemented, there were 53 deaths caused by drivers holding cellphones, compared with 100 in the two years before the law took effect. This came as total accidents and fatalities were down overall for reasons as varied as more cars having air bags.

“The drop in collisions was the biggest, single, year-to-year drop in the history of the state since the CHP began keeping the data,” Simitian said.

View the full story (San Jose Mercury News)