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Transportation Cellphones

Talking On the Phone While Driving Not So Dangerous After All 418

Posted by timothy
from the context-is-all dept.
Dorianny writes "New research which takes advantage of the increase in cell phone use after 9pm due to the popularity of 'free nights and weekends' plans showed no corresponding increase in crash rates (PDF). Additionally, the researchers analyzed the effects of legislation banning cellphone use, enacted in several states, and similarly found that the legislation had no effect on the crash rate. 'One thought is that drivers may compensate for the distraction of cellphone use by selectively deciding when to make a call or consciously driving more carefully during a call.' Score this a -1 for common sense."
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Talking On the Phone While Driving Not So Dangerous After All

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:04PM (#44513993)

    You fuckers need to keep your hands on the God damn wheel.

  • cognitive science (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maj Variola (2934803) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:04PM (#44514001)
    You have limited infoprocessing resources. You spend some on a conversation, its less for driving. Conversations can be more distracting than ethanol. Its pretty simple. I've told my wife and kid to shut up when I'm concentrating on a new route. Know your limits.
    • Re:cognitive science (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheCarp (96830) <[ten.tenaprac] [ta] [cjs]> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:28PM (#44514321) Homepage

      > Conversations can be more distracting than ethanol

      However, I don't think distraction is the problem here. A distracted driver can, so some degree, compensate. Everyone has limits, I too have asked people to shut up or told the person on the phone "hold on a second, I need to drive" when a situation got precarious.

      On the other hand, I know some bad drivers who have called me and talked for hours and never said such a thing.

      But ethanol....thats special. I remember the first time I got drunk. The first clear thought I had was "I am fine, this stuff has no effect on me, I could do anything I normally do". Right after saying this, I stood up...and promptly the room started to spin and I fell back into my seat.

      The problem with ethanol is not the famed "reaction time". As my Motorcycle safety and driving instructors both said.... if you are driving so close that raw reaction time matters that much, you are already in trouble.

      The problem is that ethanol supresses the ability of most people to judge how impaired they are. An impaired driver can compensate (to a degree anyway), a driver who doesn't feel he is impaired can't.

      That is the real danger of ethanol, fuck reaction times. I bet you my grandmother, before her car died, had reaction times as bad as a drunk driver, but, that's why she drove maddeningly slow down the road (I was stuck behind her a few times actually)...she was impaired, she compensated; drunk people often can't do that.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by FuzzNugget (2840687)
        What is this ethanol problem of which you speak? Are ethanol vehicles so prone to leaking fumes that they get you high while you're driving or are people drinking this stuff now?
    • by RenderSeven (938535) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:33PM (#44514391)
      Cognitive load. Experienced drivers dont spend much cognitive load to drive in normal conditions. Listening to music, not much. Listening to someone talking, lots. Driving fast, heavy traffic, navigating new routes, and poor conditions consume significantly higher load. All this is why you turn down the radio when looking for an address in the dark. It also makes an excellent excuse to tell the wife and kids to shut up ("Hey put a sock in it, I've never walked this way to the fridge before").
      • by PRMan (959735)

        Cognitive load. Experienced drivers dont spend much cognitive load to drive in normal conditions.

        Agree

        Listening to music, not much.

        Agree

        Listening to someone talking, lots.

        Um, depends. Is it my wife telling me about her day or my co-workers asking me what I coded 2 weeks ago because an installation went bad? #1 No problem. #2 I'm gonna have to call back when I get home.

        Driving fast, heavy traffic, navigating new routes, and poor conditions consume significantly higher load.

        Agree

        All this is why you turn down the radio when looking for an address in the dark.

        Wait, what?!? I have never turned the radio down when looking for an address in the dark. Is that a thing?

        • by labnet (457441) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @06:50PM (#44515305)

          All this is why you turn down the radio when looking for an address in the dark.

          Wait, what?!? I have never turned the radio down when looking for an address in the dark. Is that a thing?

          Yes, that's a thing.
          I have done that with my wife and three boys, when in heavy traffic in an unfamiliar area.
          I also remember a time when I was invitied into the cockpit of a commercial jet for the entire flight (back in the day), and the pilots about 20mins out from landing saying, we can't talk to you anymore until after we land.
          The human brain can only process so much information at once.

          • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday August 09, 2013 @06:05AM (#44518379) Journal

            the pilots about 20mins out from landing saying, we can't talk to you anymore until after we land.

            And they almost certainly could have landed the plane fine if you'd kept chatting. In almost every case, it would be completely fine. But very occasionally, they'd miss checking a dial or mishear ATC instructions and end up with a plane full of dead passengers, and they don't want to take that risk because, unlike many other people in this thread, they were behaving like responsible adults.

        • by Old Wolf (56093)

          Yeah that's a thing :) People often say "I can't hear myself think" - this means that noise is distracting them from concentrating.

      • by Thanshin (1188877)

        On the other hand, an increase in cognitive load reduces the perceived speed of time. If you remove all distractions to focus, a sudden change will be harder to react to, not easier.

        Unless you do know how to focus and do it by paying attention to an increased amount of data in your surrounding, increasing thus your cognitive load and therefore reducing your perceived speed of time.

        But then, you've just changed the music and phone for the chant of the birds and the movement of the branches in the trees, whic

    • by Idetuxs (2456206)

      Sure .. way to make your family shut up!

    • by johnlcallaway (165670) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @07:35PM (#44515713)
      So you never change the station on the radio?? Or glance down to see what your fuel level is?? Or how fast you were going?? Or read billboards or road signs?? Or even glance in your mirrors to check traffic behind you??? Or look beside you to see if you can change lanes? Or glance in your rear view mirror to see what your kids are doing?? Or at your passenger because they said something funny?? You never sneeze, because that means taking your eyes off the road. You just sit there with your hands at 10 and 2, sitting up straight, eyes looking ahead and watching the road only in front of you. You don't talk with anyone, not even asking directions because trying to find that next street would be too distracting. You don't use a GPS, because that would mean looking away from the road. Or the voice would be too distracting.

      Give me a break, you take your eyes off the road all the time and do other things that distract you. When you judge it is safe to do so because you have decided that you can look away at something and look back before anything happens in front of you. Because the closest car is 100 feet away and you have decided that you can look at your fuel gauge because even if they jam on their brakes the moment you look away, by the time you look up and see it you will still have time to stop. Yet someone could change lanes in front of you and jam on their brakes while you plow into them because you wanted to check how much fuel you had. How thoughtless and insensitive of you.

      I've turned off the radio because I was looking for something and it was distracting. I did it because I have this ability to judge what I have the ability to do, and when it's impaired. Maybe you think other people don't have that ability, but they do. Conditions change, and just because some people don't have the ability to talk on the phone safely, doesn't mean everyone doesn't. Nor does it mean that it's safe to do it anytime I want to. I spend as little time on the phone as I can, and only when traffic conditions allow for it. And I've put the phone down while talking with my wife because conditions changed and I needed to spend more time focused on driving.
    • by Entropius (188861)

      Talking on the phone while driving down I-10 in West Texas is not dangerous. Talking on the phone while merging on Connecticut Avenue to the Beltway is dangerous. This study shows that drivers are smart enough to know the difference.

  • they sure aren't likely to say that they used a cellphone when crashing that's for sure...

    anyhow, driving while distracted is illegal in most countries for obvious reasons, no matter what the distraction. yet some douches read the newspaper while driving.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      they sure aren't likely to say that they used a cellphone when crashing that's for sure...

      anyhow, driving while distracted is illegal in most countries for obvious reasons, no matter what the distraction. yet some douches read the newspaper while driving.

      Driving while nattering on the phone is as common as dirt. Just because there's some legislation passed does not stop people from doing it. I can sit at a light and watch drivers go past and often more than 50% are holding a phone to their head with one hand. If they put up some cameras to record this and mail out the tickets it might change things a bit, particularly as insurers would be alerted as to who is a higher risk.

      I've seen the darnedest things while driving - applying make-up, shaving (face, no

      • I will say this, every time I've seen an accident or been hit in one, the other driver had a phone in their hand. I'm curious who funded this study.

        After skimming the first couple pages, I'm a bit offended that this qualifies as a "scientific study."

        Basically, the "researchers" looked at a couple of graphs, and said, "OOH! Look! A correlation! CORRELATION == CAUSATION!!! WE GEE-NYUS-SES!"

        The crocodiles in Pearls Before Swine do better research.

        • Check out Figure 1 of the PDF. Minor annoyances: there is no legend, and one line label occurs where two lines are on top of each other. Major WTH: the green dashed "All Crashes" line is clearly taller than the blue dotted "Fatal Crashes" line until about 2004 when the number of Fatal Crashes became more than the All Crashes figure for the next 12 months. I stopped reading the PDF at this point.
      • by X0563511 (793323)

        In contrast to this, every accident I've been involved in, they were just spacing out or made an error in judgement. No phones were involved.

  • I think it's rather risky to post this without a question mark after the title - pretty sure I remember how "studies showed" that vegetables weren't good for you once.

    I imagine it depends on the driver and whether they compensate by pausing the conversation when things need concentration etc. But I've seen people trying to drive a *shopping trolley* while talking on the phone and failing hard, so a car? Hm.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:08PM (#44514047) Journal
    I was ok when they banned talking on the cell phone, it was banning texting that really annoyed me.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      why? texting takes more attention.

      anyways the whole study sounds a bit suspect since their logic is just that since cheaper phone calls didn't cause an increase in crashing....... it's stupid.

      • why? texting takes more attention.

        The texting is problematic, but the ban makes it much worse.

        The stupid people who will text and drive used to do it with their phone on top of their steering wheel. Now that it's a primary offense in some jurisdictions they are still doing it, but down in their lap, so the cops can't see it. At least before their focus was off but the road was still in their field of view. Now they just roll over the center yellows and never even see the head-on collision. We have one w

        • by hedwards (940851)

          That makes no sense.

          People might do that, but that's not an argument in favor of leaving it legal, it's an argument for increasing the penalties and including texting as an aggravating factor when prosecuting vehicular homicide.

          This is like that bullshit line about criminals being willing to break gun laws to get guns. It may be true, but it doesn't justify having a shit ton of easily accessible firearms for them to buy without a background check.

    • My biggest issue is when people tell me that I can't use Google Maps as my GPS. I'm NOT going to buy a Garmin device! My 4" tablet is my GPS!
      • by erice (13380)

        My biggest issue is when people tell me that I can't use Google Maps as my GPS. I'm NOT going to buy a Garmin device! My 4" tablet is my GPS!

        It wouldn't help anyway. The exception is only for navigation systems built into the car. An add-on gps, even if dedicated to the task is still illegal to use while driving in California.

  • Another one! (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheCarp (96830) <[ten.tenaprac] [ta] [cjs]> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:11PM (#44514077) Homepage

    This jives pretty well with the study I have been showing everyone I can which actually studied the individuals who DO get in accidents with cell phones. What it found was that, as a group, they tended to get in more accidents than other drivers; even when not using cell phones!

    Not only that but, while it has been found that most drivers using cell phones drive more cautiously; but these drivers in particular tended to drive LESS cautiously when distracted! This pretty clearly pointed to bad drivers with cell phones being more a judgement issue than a distraction issue.

    So these findings are pretty unsurprising in light of that. It has been known for a while now that decreasing real phone usage doesn't change accident rates. NY state observed a 60% decrease in the number of drivers on the road observed to be using cell phones.... with no change in its accident rates.

    • by Kaenneth (82978)

      Which then calls into question drunk driving statistics.

      Do people who disregard the law and drive while slightly drunk more likely to take other risks while driving sober, and get into accidents anyway?

      • Re:Another one! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheCarp (96830) <[ten.tenaprac] [ta] [cjs]> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:49PM (#44514581) Homepage

        Actually a friend of mine tells an amusing story of being in a class in HS where the teacher brought out the alcohol and driving stats and asked the class "What do these stats tell you?"

        Apparently the teacher didn't like it when he raised his hand and said something which I actually believe to be true: "It takes about 10 years to learn how to drive a car well".

        I would have laughed at you had you said that to me when I was in my early 20s. At this point, I would smack my 20something self for being stupid.

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:11PM (#44514081) Homepage

    Could it simply be that there's fewer accidents after 9 PM, regardless as to whether people are on the phone or not?

    Call me crazy, but I always assumed more accidents took place during rush hour than after.

    • Could it simply be that there's fewer accidents after 9 PM, regardless as to whether people are on the phone or not?

      They looked at accident data before and after the "free minutes" were available. So they were not comparing 9PM to 6PM, but rather 9PM with free minutes to 9PM without free minutes.

      Anyway, I find their conclusion hard to believe. I was in several near accidents while talking before I swore off using the phone while driving.

      • by mjwx (966435) on Friday August 09, 2013 @12:53AM (#44517507)

        Could it simply be that there's fewer accidents after 9 PM, regardless as to whether people are on the phone or not?

        They looked at accident data before and after the "free minutes" were available. So they were not comparing 9PM to 6PM, but rather 9PM with free minutes to 9PM without free minutes.

        Anyway, I find their conclusion hard to believe. I was in several near accidents while talking before I swore off using the phone while driving.

        Their assumption is that the "free minutes" changed anyone's phone call habits or driving behaviour. This is a pretty bad assumption.

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:11PM (#44514083)

    So you mean to tell me all those people in the passing lane, who are driving significantly slower than the speed limit, weaving from side to side within their lane, and have their head tilted over, looking down, with their cell phone clamped to their ear are safe drivers?????

    • by H0p313ss (811249)

      So you mean to tell me all those people in the passing lane, who are driving significantly slower than the speed limit, weaving from side to side within their lane, and have their head tilted over, looking down, with their cell phone clamped to their ear are safe drivers?????

      This must be the same researchers that are telling the world that pumping CO2 into the atmosphere has no impact on climate.

      Remember in the 70's when the tobacco companies trotted out expert after expert to tell us that smoking was safe?

    • by Dorianny (1847922)
      Perhaps these are the same people that would be driving significantly faster than the speed limit, swerving from lane to lane, if they weren't on the phone.
    • by TheCarp (96830) <[ten.tenaprac] [ta] [cjs]> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:35PM (#44514413) Homepage

      More likely those people are just not representative of drivers using cell phones. You notice them more, because of selection bias.

      Most cell phone drivers are the ones sitting in some random lane, not changing lanes, driving slow and making everyone pass them. They are sitting at red lights after the green, and letting people pass when they should go.

  • The study addresses cell phone use after 9 p.m. on weeknights. But how much traffic is on the road at that time of night compared to, say, rush hour?
  • The study makes the assumption that people will wait for the free call period after 9pm, and assumes that if more people were waiting for that point that we would see a corresponding increase in crashes, but from what I can gather there's no segregation of the data to show how many of the test subjects have data plans that are not unlimited in call time. I have to imagine that if you're waiting for 9pm in order to make a call, it's an important call and you'll make it from someplace other than the inside o
    • by Dorianny (1847922)
      The study makes no such assumptions. As the paper notes they use Carrier data to show a "7.2 percent jump in driver call likelihood at the 9pm threshold".
      • As the paper notes they use Carrier data to show a "7.2 percent jump in driver call likelihood at the 9pm threshold".

        How does the carrier know whether someone's driving or not?

  • by chinton (151403) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [todhsals-100notnihc]> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:15PM (#44514147) Journal
    First they came for the callers, but I didn't speak up because I have blue-tooth.

    Then they came for the texters, but I didn't speak up because I never text and drive.

    Then they came for me... And no one would pick up.

  • I don't know, I knew a guy who would, every year, drive from Kiel (Northern Germany) to Malaga (Spain) in his Volkswagen van. While doing so, he would read poems and memorize these so could recite.

    The distance is about 2700 Km (1600 miles) and he never had an accident. I don't know how he did it, but for about ten years, he was quite a safe driver (after that, I lost contact to him - because I moved to another place)...

    • Maybe he was lucky... If you are drunk, texting, talking on the phone or concentrating on adjusting the climate control on the unbelievably crappy BMW "smart control", you are not going to have an accident as long as nothing unexpected happens. But if something does, a child crossing the road, tire blowing out, someone cutting in front of you or braking hard... then your chances of avoiding that accident are a lot worse compared to a fit and alert driver.

      Know your limits. For myself, a conversation to
      • by ImdatS (958642)

        I believe that that friend of mine was quite trained in driving + reading and knew exactly when to put down the book and when to continue. So, he could not be really distracted from driving while reading.

        I agree: talking to passengers while driving doesn't distract me, but talking on the phone *does* - so I don't pick-up the phone either. I rather find a stop, halt the car and then call back if the caller seemed some "important" person (my wife, daughter, etc...)

        In fact, knowing your limits is one of the ke

  • I should never talk on the phone while driving. Heck, my driving ability decreases even with a in-depth conversation with a passenger in the car. Since I can freely admit that using a cell phone while driving makes me a worse driver, I have a hard time believing that there aren't enough others with the same problem to warrant even a statistical blip.
  • Talking On the Phone While Driving Not So Dangerous After All

    Be that as it may, please don't tell all these idiot drivers that! :p

  • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:26PM (#44514295)

    Talking and texting while driving was made illegal. Accident rates didn't change. That doesn't say anything about how dangerous it is to talk or text while driving. Instead, it just says that the law is sporadically enforced, if at all, and universally ignored by drivers. Accident rates didn't change because talking/texting while driving rates also didn't change.

    I question how much free minutes changed calling patterns, too. I suspect cell phone companies offered that feature knowing there would be little or no change in calling patterns and they would continue to make nearly all the money they already were before the change, indicating that people aren't taking advantage of free minute time windows.

  • All I can say is that when I am in the car with someone talking on the phone while they are driving, they are absolutely distracted. And it is a lot more than when they talk to someone else in the car. I don't know why this is so, just that I've noticed a tendency for them to drift in the lane, slow down or speed up or not take curves as crisply. It may be that it is harder to talk to a disembodied voice than it is to talk to someone that is next to you. All the non-verbal ques are missing.

  • It's pretty obvious that, assuming there is one, the increased risk of talking on a cell phone while driving can only be marginal. Hundreds of millions of people have been doing this for years now, and we've not seen any huge surge in accidents. If you look at vehicle fatalities in the USA per year (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year) you will see that the fatality rate per population has decreased steadily. We would have to see some increase between say 1995 and to

    • by Splab (574204)

      Yes, because death is the only possible outcome of a crash.... And obviously improved safety has done nothing...

    • by AaronW (33736)

      Part of it may be the fact that it takes more brain processing when listening to the poor audio quality from a cell phone than someone speaking next to them. Plus the other person speaking is also aware of conditions around the vehicle and the driver can better prioritize on driving. Things are especially bad when one of the parties on the cell phone has less than ideal reception.

  • After 9pm it is safe to say there are less vehicles on the road to bump into and fewer other drivers also distracted with their phones. Not hitting that critical mass.
    • by Ichijo (607641)

      Right, it's much safer to blow through a red light at 9pm than it is at 7am or 4pm.

  • ... the injury rate of drivers who were so enthralled with swiping through their cellphone menus when the light turned green that they were dragged out of their cars and thrashed by the people stuck behind them?

    :^)

  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:33PM (#44514397)
    Granted, me and Ol' Belle (may she rest in peace) have a biased opinion. But ending up upside down because some teenage twit thought what was happening on her phone was far more important that looking out the window does tend to skew your opinion.
    T-boned at an intersection after she had a full 10 seconds of red light in front of her. She never bothered to look, and blew through the intersection at 50+.

    " consciously driving more carefully during a call" is exactly what intoxicated drivers try to do.
  • by Tom (822)

    Or maybe it's just one study. Let's wait until a few people have checked the method and poked holes in the data.

    Because, you know, when it's about life or death (and a car at any non-ridiculous speed always is), erring on the side of caution is not exactly stupid.

  • Either they're weaving or they're inattentive. Even the physical position of holding a phone up blocks peripheral vision. I almost had to dump my car over a curb to evade an oncoming car that roamed into my lane. I stopped using my phone while driving (until I got a Blutooth-enabled car) because I'd caught myself making mistakes while on the phone.

    The article shows that accident rates have been dropping sharply for the years before cell phones became ubiquitous. If anything, that curve flattens out more

  • In the year 2000 cars will be able to drive themselves, so texting, talking, sleeping, or being drunk shouldn't have any affect on accident rates.

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      In the year 2000 cars will be able to drive themselves, so texting, talking, sleeping, or being drunk shouldn't have any affect on accident rates.

      In the year 2000, oil will have run out, so no-one will be driving anywhere.

    • by PPH (736903)

      Flying cars.

      Which means the automated cabin attendant will remind you to turn off your electronics, return your tray table to its stowed position and please buy extravagantly from your in-flight magazine.

  • This research is total crap.

    First, the increase in phone usage is just 7.5% so any effects would already be marginal.

    Second, they have not controlled any other factors - people might talk more, from home. Are they talking more while they are driving?
    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Here's what I remember happening in the UK:

      1. The government said 'SOMETHING MUST BE DONE about people using the phone while driving!'
      2. Media began reporting that banning phone use while driving would eliminate about 200% of accidents (yeah, I don't remember the number, but it was a huge and stupid demonstration of journalistic innumeracy).
      3. The government passed a law.
      4. Accident rates didn't much change.

      So, I'm not at all surprised to see others find that banning phone use while driving has little or no

  • by gelfling (6534) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:53PM (#44514631) Homepage Journal

    Meaning 100% of the entire time drunk drivers are driving they are drunk. Whereas the occasional phone call is in fact a random and rare thing for the most part. But the wider issue is cast ye the first phone and all that rot. I was in a car for mere minutes today - as a passenger and in 6 miles we saw one person wander across 4 lanes of traffic no signal. One person slammed on their brakes for zero reason. One person stop dead in the middle of a right turn for no reason. One person drove in the shoulder to pass us. And as far as we could tell no one was holding a phone.

  • The graph on page 2 shows "indexed crashes per billion highway miles travelled." It show "fatal crashes" and "all crashes."

    What I don't get is that since about 2003, there have apparently been more "fatal crashes" than "all crashes," and that before 1991 all crashes were fatal crashes. What am I missing?

  • by bdwoolman (561635) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @06:04PM (#44514757) Homepage

    I think about the amount of energy accumulated [vcu.edu] when I am driving. Even at moderate urban speeds it is an awesome amount of destructive force when dissipated rapidly. To minimize the chance that such an energy release will destroy yours truly I minimize distractions. I view it is a long statistical game played over decades. Even small degradations of capability will tell in the long run. I am not a complete Pearson's Puppeteer about this (otherwise I would probably avoid cars altogether), but I try to channel the attitude a bit. I have always done my best to fully concentrate on the road. The fact that I have driven in many places where driving culture is quite crude and rude -- Eastern Europe, Asia -- has, I will confess, helped to concentrate my mind. As I see the crap that other people do in their cars, especially lately with all the cool new tech, I really am starting to get impatient for the robots to take over. With roughly 30,000 dead on our highways every year they can hardly do worse. In fact chimps could hardly do worse.

    Mr Brin, Mr Page I know you are both quite busy. But, um, can you get on with it? Please?

  • More people have unlimited minutes, and after 9 p.m. there are fewer fellow drivers on the road. So looking for a statistical uptick in wrecks after 9 p.m. seems weak.

    Also weak is looking for a statistical downtick in states that banned it. It's banned here, but I still see many doing it (anecdotal, I know).

    And according to the summary, those two factors are their sole argument.

    Just seems weak.

  • The jury's still out on ... science
  • If you actually believe that driving while on the phone does not distract you and impair your ability to safely drive, all I can say is you're a moron and ask that when you do get into a accident, please do your level best to ensure that you, and and only you, are injured. There are other drivers on the streets (with passengers, like kids, in their car) who would like to get home alive and unharmed and we'd appreciate it if you'd risk only your life rather than ours.

    You may not respect the responsibility at

  • There is data that shows vitamin c does not prevent a cold cold, DUI check points do not reduce accidents, and praying for someone sick acutally correlates with a higher likihood of them dying. No one cares. People are scientifically illiterate. They make their decions based on emotion and supersition. Look around and you'll see it's true.
  • by Duncan J Murray (1678632) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @06:24PM (#44515011) Homepage

    Just to list a few:

    For starters this is a retrospective, observational (being generous here) cohort study.
    I'd like a bit more technical detail on how they ensured that they were measuring mobile calls from cars (they have assurance from the telecommunications company)
    They note a 7% rise in what they believe to be car mobile phone calls at 9pm on Monday to Friday on a background of steadily decreasing phone calls from 8pm to 10pm, and they don't mention whether this spike is statistically significant.
    The spike in the rise of mobile car use is of a maximum of 1/2 hour before the level reaches pre-9pm levels, and continues to decrease. This interval is short - to notice an effect the recording of the car accidents in their source would have to be pretty precise. Any errors in the reporting of car accidents is probably going to make a 30 min window period difficult to measure.
    They haven't analysed the variation in traffic at different times in the evening, which makes comparison at different time periods difficult. If the traffic is less after 9pm, the rate of accidents per car could be higher.

    But the main problem is:
    To show 'no effect' you need to ensure that your study is powered to make this observation - which they have not done. A 7% rise in mobile usage over 30 minutes would need ?how many crashes to give a statistically significant result that rises above the noise.

    To be fair, they mention some of these issues as caveats, but I'm not sure they had enough statistics input for this paper. I would like to see the confidence intervals, how they were calculated, what software was used and what the p-values are. There should be a statisticians name on the paper. Certainly, you can't conclude that mobile phones are not dangerous while driving - you can only say that they found no evidence to show this in this particular study.

  • by thomst (1640045) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @09:51PM (#44516705) Homepage

    Please explain how this "study" corrected for the difference in traffic conditions between rush hour/daytime driving and driving on weekends and after 9:00pm.

    On second thought, don't bother. This "study" isn't worthy of the effort.

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