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Carnegie Mellon University research: mobile phone usage not linked to accident statistics

We’ve all been bombarded with stories about how dangerous it is to use a mobile phone while driving, right?  Well, according to researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics, have found no direct link between the number of US drivers operating a phone while driving and the number of accidents which have occurred between the years of 2002 and 2005.

Naturally, this statistical data does not include those users who might be browsing the internet on their smartphone or even worse, texting.  Instead, they looked at those who were making calls before and after 9 pm, concentrating on those users who were prone to using the “free calls after 9 pm throughout the week” promotions which many US carriers often offer their customers.

Prof Saurabh Bhargava (Carnegie Mellon) and Dr Vikram Pathania (London School of Economics) analyzed the data and discovered that, while the volume of calls being made on the road dramatically increased, there was no spike in the number of car crashes or road-related incidents reported.  “We just know that we saw a big jump in cellphone use and there was no impact on the crash rate.  At first we thought the numbers were wrong. We went back and checked everything, but there was nothing going on at all”, stated Dr Pathania.

However, they’re not sure whether or not certain segments (of this particular demographic) might still be prone to accidents while using mobile phones.  “Rash drivers will always find a way to distract themselves”, said Pathania.  “It may look different if you focus on young males or new drivers”.

These findings seem to indicate a complete disconnect or sharp contrast with the UK ban on using mobile phones while driving which kicked off in 2003.  Of course this doesn’t extend to “hands-free” devices, only conventional phones.  Furthermore, anyone that seems to be “significantly distracted” might find themselves receiving a ticket / fine of around £60 as well as a deduction of up to 3 points on their license.

According to the head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Kevin Clinton, “Using a phone at the wheel increases the risk of a crash by 4 times”.   Nevertheless, many individuals continue to thwart the law and engage in driving habits which are not only personally dodgy, but also perhaps most notably, dangerous to others as well.

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