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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

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Cell Phone Related Driving Deaths Decreased, Study Finds

A California study shows the ban on hand-held devices while driving has helped reduce traffic related deaths.

Laws prohibiting cell phone use while driving have reduced the overall number of traffic deaths, according to a study conducted by the State Transportation Research and Education Center at UC Berkeley.

Researchers found that fatalities of motorists who use cell phones while driving have decreased 47 percent. The reduction in crashes may be due to increased law enforcement. The California Department of Motor Vehicles reported a 22 percent increase in hand-held cell phone violations from 2010 to 2011.

A survey by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) found that California drivers are most concerned about other drivers talking or texting on the phone when it comes to their safety. 84 percent of drivers believed talking on the phone or texting while driving account for the most serious distractions while driving.

Four out of ten drivers reported talking less with their hand-held cell phones or hands-free cell phones since the statewide ban began. However, a study by the Highway Loss Data Institute from January 2010 found different results, suggesting there had been no serious change in the number of crashes.

In California, a violation of using a cell phone while driving is at least $159 for the first offense and $279 for subsequent offenses.

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