Teen drivers mostly ignore texting bans but make fewer hand-held cell phone calls while driving, according to a new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Teen drivers reported 55% fewer hand-held cell phone conversations when hand-held calling bans for drivers of all ages were in place compared to states with no bans.
In a related finding from the study, laws that ban texting among young drivers were not effective in reducing either hand-held conversations or texting. Approximately one-third of teen drivers continue to talk on the phone and text while driving, reports Insurance Journal.
The study was prepared by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in conjunction with researchers from West Virginia University and the University of Minnesota.
Specifically, the study found different behaviors on the part of teens based on the type of ban — hand-held phone conversations or texting — as well as whether the ban applied to just young drivers or all drivers.
The researchers suggest that the difference in teen behavior may be attributed to actual or perceived enforcement of the particular laws. For example, as noted in the Insurance Journal report, it may be easier for police to enforce universal hand-held bans because they don't need to judge a driver's age from afar and can more easily identify a driver holding a phone to his ear than using a phone in his lap.
In addition, drivers may believe an officer would be able to identify them holding a phone to their ear but not texting in their lap.
The authors of the study are urging legislators to put more laws in place that ban hand-held cell phone calls because such laws have been proven to work while texting bans have not.