ARLINGTON, Va. — The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testified November 4 before a joint hearing of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection and the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.
The cumulative evidence from various types of studies points toward cellphone use as a risk factor for crashes and impaired driving performance. While studies have reached different estimates of the magnitude of the risk, well-controlled research that verified phone use in large samples of crash-involved drivers found that the risk of crashing was 4 times higher when a driver was talking on either a hand-held or hands-free phone.
Seven states and the District of Columbia have banned hand-held cellphone use while driving, but the effects of these laws on hand-held use is mixed. Moreover, the effect on safety isn't clear. Many drivers still use hand-held phones where use is banned, and other drivers may switch to hands-free devices, which doesn't help, since the crash risk with either type of device is about the same. Preliminary data from insurance claims for collision suggest no apparent reduction in crash risk after states enacted hand-held bans.
Full text of testimony (PDF)