Cell Phone Ban Accident Rate Data Interpreted Completely Wrong by Highly Dugg (on Digg) Site

hldi_cellphone_cars.png

I noticed this next item fro Cellphones.org on Digg and felt compelled to provide an alternative interpretation of the data that site presents.

I worry about citing a source like cellphones.org whose “About” page is the default WordPress text for a new site. But, quick check of its cited sources like the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) and Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (HCRA) are legitimate, so, I’ll treat cellphone.org’s reports legit for now although HCRA hasn’t published anything since 2008.

Cellphone Related Accidents

Cellphone.org reports that HLDI (an insurance industry group) found that cell phone bans did not reduce car accidents. The graphic shown above is used to illustrate this. But, is Cellphone.org looking at the same chart we are? Look at it closely? The blue line represents nearby states that do not have cell phone bans while driving in effect. The red line represents collision claim frequences for new vehicles in New York state. The white background chart area on the left represent a time before the cellphone band went into effect in New York.

Two things stand out in this chart:

1. The number of accidents in New York state does appear to go down after the cell phone ban took effect. An “eyeball” study (raw numbers not available in the article) also indicates lower-lows and lower-highs after the ban.
2. The number of accidents in New York appaer to be significantly higher than neighboring states when all these states did NOT have a cell phone ban. After the ban took effect, New York’s accident rate dropped to meet the rates in the neighboring states.

My interpretation of the chart data is exactly the opposite of Cellphone.org’s: The New York state cell phone did reduce car accident rates following its implementation.