The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has delayed the release of a report to state lawmakers on the role of cell phones in car accidents after the agency learned its estimates may have been too low, the Los Angeles Times reported. CHP commissioner Dwight O. Helmick told the Times that he has changed his view and now believes that California drivers should only be allowed to use cell phones with hands-free devices. A bill to that effect will be introduced in December in the state legislature, the third time such a bill has appeared before California lawmakers. Currently, New York is the only state with a law against hand-held cell phone use by drivers, although some county and local government have enacted their own laws. The report, which the state legislature ordered last year, counted 913 accidents in 2001 that police officers attributed to cell phone use behind the wheel. However, a Times analysis of the study indicated that in actuality 4,699 accidents were blamed on cell phone use by drivers over the first nine months of 2001, including 31 fatal accidents and 2,786 injuries. Helmick told the Times that the revised data would show that cell phones had been to blame for nearly seven times the number of accidents that the CHP report originally stated.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials