Monday, August 26, 2013

Study Rejects Cell Phone Driving Danger Claims

Study documents the first safety evaluation of moving vehicles that used cellphones

A study published in the August edition American Economic Journal rejects the commonly held view that the proliferation of cellphone use among the driving public has made travel more dangerous. Politicians have seized on the perception and outlawed driving while talking on a handheld cellphone in eleven states. Many other states are considering following suit. reports that Saurabh Bhargava from with Carnegie Mellon University and Vikram S. Pathania from the London School of Economics found no correlation between the rise in cellphone use and any increase in traffic collisions, the findings of 125 published studies to the contrary.

The researchers began by posing a difficult question for the politicians and rival study authors: Why has cellphone use skyrocketed at the same time that traffic accidents and fatalities are at an all-time low? 

In a 2009 report, the Best Highway Practices Institute showed the disconnect between the rates of mobile phone usage and fatalities (view chart). The new study replicates the findings, and goes the next step with a more direct analysis.

Loudoun County Traffic
This study certainly goes against most of what is being promoted and publicized when it comes to distracted driving, which notes that "engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times."

What are your thoughts? Agree or disagree with these new results? Comment below.

Read more in this article |  "Driving under the (Cellular) Influence" (American Economic Journal, 8/1/2013)

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