Yesterday Jalopnik discussed whether cell phone laws make anybody safer. In many cases, I believe the answer to be no. (Full Disclosure: Other than owning a cell phone (which I hate) I have no stake or shares in phone companies and do not work for any).
I submit the following to the discussion:
In this particular case a cell phone wielding driver (who was being pulled over for using his cell phone) ran away from the cops. He drove at high speed and in a reckless fashion down several city blocks, ran a few red lights, crashed into a Nissan, then hit a cyclist and broke her leg.
Although this chase was investigated, I generally wont place too much blame on the cop here. I will place blame on the law that led to this car chase. Because of the cell phone law this driver ruined his car, both him and the cop endangered others, the driver of the Nissan is probably facing a write off, and the cyclist wont be cycling anytime soon.
Clearly the driver is wrong to run from the cops, I am not defending him or his cell phone using habits, which does unarguably make you a worse driver. The question however remains: "Does the law banning the use of cell phones make us any safer??". More specifically "Did the cell phone law have a positive impact on road safety in this particular instance?" In this case, which is a bit extreme the answer is of course, "No". This law led a stupid driver (again I am not defending his actions, they were stupid, reckless, criminal and negligent) to endanger innocents, and led to cyclist sustaining a serious injury.
Increasingly it seems to me the answer to "Does the law banning the use of cell phones make us any safer??" is No, the law does not protect us but make the roads more dangerous due to people holding their phone lower, and helping to create situations as described above.
Although distracted driving is stupid, this law suffers from the effect of unintended consequences and should be repealed here in Ontario and throughout North America.
A more effective approach would be for the government to instill in the population the dangers of distracted driving, but not make it illegal.