New data from Cambridge Mobile Telematics shows a 3-second drop in the first month, but results are already fading
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT), the world’s largest telematics service provider, today announced the first analysis of the hands-free law enacted in Alabama on June 16, 2023. The new data shows a 2.4% reduction in distracted driving one month after Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill prohibiting drivers from handling their phones while driving. From May 16 through June 15, Alabama drivers spent an average of 2 minutes and 5 seconds driving distracted. In the month since the law passed, time spent distracted decreased by 3 seconds.
The gains from the new law already appear to be fading, however. The first week after the law went into effect saw the largest reduction in distracted driving, dropping by four seconds compared to the prior month. The last full week of CMT’s analysis, from July 14 through July 20, shows that distraction in Alabama was 1 second higher than before the law went into effect.
“Hands-free laws are the foundation for a host of strategic initiatives that can improve roadway safety by reducing smartphone distraction,” said Ryan McMahon, SVP of Strategy for CMT. “While a critical milestone, Alabama’s new law does not have the same restrictions as laws passed in other states this year, which have reduced distracted driving by five times as much. Alabama’s biggest challenge now is to build on the foundation of the new law to strengthen safety for all drivers in Alabama.”
Ohio passed hands-free legislation in early April. Since then, it’s seen a sustained 10% reduction in distracted driving. One of the key differences between the two states is that Ohio’s law is a primary offense, meaning that police officers can stop drivers just for handling their phones. Alabama’s law is a secondary offense, where police officers can only ticket drivers for using their phones if they’ve also committed a primary offense, like speeding.
Still, the 2.4% drop in distracted driving in Alabama for one month made drivers and roadway users in the state safer. CMT’s data shows that the crash rate falls by 1.4% with every 10% reduction in distracted driving. In the month of reduced distraction, CMT estimates that Alabama was able to prevent 70 car crashes and $1.6 million in economic damages.*
CMT defines phone motion distraction as when the phone is rotating with the screen on while the vehicle is moving. The data comes from over 1 million trips in Alabama from May 16 through July 24, 2023. For more on how CMT measures distracted driving and the latest distraction trends, please download CMT’s 2023 report: The State of Distracted Driving in 2023 & the Future of Road Safety.
About Cambridge Mobile Telematics
Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT) is the world’s largest telematics service provider. Its mission is to make the world’s roads and drivers safer. The company’s AI-driven platform, DriveWell®, gathers sensor data from millions of IoT devices — including smartphones, proprietary Tags, connected vehicles, dashcams, and third-party devices — and fuses them with contextual data to create a unified view of vehicle and driver behavior. Companies from personal and commercial auto insurance, automotive, rideshare, smart cities, wireless, financial services, and family safety industries use insights from CMT’s platform to power their risk assessment, safety, claims, and driver improvement programs. Headquartered in Cambridge, MA, with offices in Budapest, Chennai, Seattle, Tokyo, and Zagreb, CMT serves millions of people through over 95 programs in 25 countries, including 21 of the top 25 US auto insurers. Learn more at CMT.ai.
*Estimates based on the change in crash rate from distracted driving and data from NHTSA’s report The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2019: $340 billion in crash damages from 14.2 million crashes in 2019, averaging $23,954 per crash