This one doesn't surprise us one bit and we'll explain why in a moment. Until then, clock this: a Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) study determined that laws banning the use of hand-held phones have no effect on the crash rate. None, as in zero effect. Says HLDI and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety president Adrian Lund, "The laws aren't reducing crashes, even though we know that such laws have reduced hand-held phone use." So there you go, drivers get into an equal number of crashes with or without cell phones.

As to why we aren't surprised by the HLDI's findings, two reasons... well, really three. The first being that over the last decade and a half there has been an exponential increase in American cell phone usage. We went from only yuppies walking around with Gordon Gekko sized brick phones to nearly everyone having a mobile phone. If cell phones and driving are as dangerous as certain state lawmakers were led to believe, we would have seen a similar exponential rise in accidents. But, we never saw one. Instead, it was just one big hysterical case of causation without correlation.

The second reason is something Ford showed us while we were checking out their new MyFord Touch technology. Ford engineers were explaining just how crazy dangerous it is to text while driving. According to Ford's data, texting while driving is 23 times their baseline as dangerous as just plain old driving – by far the most dangerous activity you can engage in behind the wheel. Looking at FoMoCo's chart we noticed that hands-free cell phone usage registered a +1 in terms of danger – statistically insignificant. However, talking on a hand-held cell phone recorded -1, less accidents occurred in Ford's study when people were talking on a hand-held phone than when they were just driving. That said, -1 is statistically nothing.

Our third reason is more observational than data of science based, though it does square with the HLDI's findings: people seem to drive just as lousy phone or no phone. Wake up and drive people.

[Source: HLDI News | Photo: Corbis]