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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.