Feeds

Banning handheld phone use by drivers had NO effect on accident rate - study

Some new ban obviously in order. Radios? Children?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Recent legislation banning the use of handheld phones by drivers had basically no effect on the number of road accidents, according to a new study.

“If it’s really that dangerous, and if even just a fraction of people stop using their phones, we would expect to find some decrease in accidents,” says professor Daniel Kaffine, who worked on the analysis. “But we didn’t find any statistical evidence of a reduction.”

It seems that Kaffine and his colleagues took steps to iron out at least the most obvious extraneous factors. We are told:

The researchers chose to look a relatively narrow window of time to reduce the number of other variables that might have an impact on accident rates, including the possible introduction of safer cars into the market, an economic recession that leads to a drop in overall driving, or other changes to state traffic laws.

They also corrected their data to account for precipitation, which can cause more accidents; gas prices, which can affect how many vehicles are on the road; and other unobservable factors that may have influenced accidents.

Once all these corrections had been made, the effect of banning handheld phone use at the wheel was found to be ... zero.

"Our results suggest that simply banning hand-held cellphone use may not produce the desired increase in traffic safety," comments Kaffine, bluntly.

The ban in question was the one brought in for California in 2008, but obviously the study would seem to have implications for other bans in other major car-using jurisdictions with broadly similar levels of road safety, law enforcement and compliance with laws and regulations.

Possible reasons for the complete failure of the ban to achieve anything useful could include it being totally ignored by all drivers, but this seems unlikely based on previous studies: at least some people pay attention to such bans, and so a noticeable number of accidents should be prevented.

It could also be that most who obeyed the ban switched to the use of handsfree equipment, which some believe is just as dangerous as handheld. Or it might be that those who obeyed the ban turned from nattering on their phones to groping about below the windscreen to manipulate their car audio systems, satnavs etc.

But it has to be at least possible also that actually using a phone while driving just isn't that dangerous. Various academic studies have put it on a par with drunk driving, but Kaffine and his team note that many of these studies were lab based and may have failed to reproduce the way people actually behave behind the wheel.

The new study can be read here, in the journal Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY
'Nerd release' finally staggers past 50 per cent adoption
Apple spent just ONE DOLLAR beefing up the latest iPad Air 2
New iPads look a lot like the old one. There's a reason for that
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Microsoft fitness bands slapped on wrists: All YOUR HEALTH DATA are BELONG TO US
Wearable will deliver 'actionable insights for healthier living'
Caterham Seven 160 review: The Raspberry Pi of motoring
Back to driving's basics with a joyously legal high
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
Amazon hopes FIRE STICK will light up its video service
We do streaming video? It seems we do...
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?