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More Than 1 In 4 Car Crashes Involve Cellphone Use 367

Posted by samzenpus
from the keep-your-eyes-on-the-road-your-hands-upon-the-wheel dept.
schwit1 (797399) writes "Texting and driving is dangerous but a new survey finds talking on a cellphone while behind the wheel may be even worse. The National Safety Council's annual report found 26 percent of all crashes are tied to phone use, but noted just 5 percent involved texting. Safety advocates are lobbying now for a total ban on driver phone use, pointing to studies that headsets do not reduce driver distraction."
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More Than 1 In 4 Car Crashes Involve Cellphone Use

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  • by Lodlaiden (2767969) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @07:06PM (#46597843)
    Some people are more prone to be in / cause an accident period. Distracted driving increases the likelyhood of an accident, be it texting, be-bopping to music, talking on the phone, enjoying the company of the fellow passengers, or just plain dealing with kids.

    There's a reason the pilot of a plane is sectioned away from the screaming babies.
  • by dfetter (2035) <david@fetter.org> on Thursday March 27, 2014 @07:08PM (#46597861) Homepage Journal

    not the holding of the device, as anybody who'd thought this through even for a second was saying back when "hands-free" was being touted as a safety feature.

  • by geneing (756949) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @07:10PM (#46597877)
    The main question is if the total accident rate has increased since cell phones became ubiquitous. As far as I know the answer is "no", the accident rate actually went down. "Tied to" doesn't mean "caused", or "increased the chance of". Usually "tied to" is a lazy qualifier from a lazy researcher or journalist.
  • Re:great (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HornWumpus (783565) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @07:13PM (#46597913)

    And moving .08 up to a reasonable number.

  • by zenlessyank (748553) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @07:16PM (#46597937)
    Most people can't drive properly and legally as it is.
  • Statistics suck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @07:23PM (#46598015)

    You know what is more dangerous than cellphones in cars? Breast. No lie.

    It is a fact that in over 50% of all accidents there were at LEAST 2 breasts in the car at the time. Often times 4 or more! Breasts are twice as likely to be involved in any accident that cellphone or penises. I call for an immediate ban on breasts in moving vehicles. They can be near them while the car is at rest, preferably at a car show, both otherwise they more dangerous than drunk driving!!!

    That's, of course, unless you want to actually use statistics for something other than alarmism.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@yBLUEahoo.com minus berry> on Thursday March 27, 2014 @07:25PM (#46598041) Homepage Journal

    Actually better done and accurate studies would be even better.

  • by lgw (121541) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @07:36PM (#46598135) Journal

    Holding the device always makes it worse, especially when dialing. Especially in a stick-shift.

    Many drivers communicate all the time while driving, on the radio or more modern cell-phone based alternative. They have before cell phones existed. It's the driver who's dangerous, not the phone.

  • by lgw (121541) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @07:39PM (#46598169) Journal

    You should see how the books are cooked for "alcohol-related" crashes. Beer in the trunk of the car that was blindsided? Alcohol-related! Agenda-driven statistics.

    I can certainly believe 1-in-4 if you include passengers in the not-at-fault car on the phone as "phone related"

    Remember, there are lies, damn lies, and anonymous posts on the internet! Or something like that.

  • Bring Darwin Back! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ichijo (607641) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @07:56PM (#46598367) Homepage Journal

    We need to replant trees by the sides of roads. You know, the ones they dug out because drivers kept hitting them. This will give inattentive drivers something better to crash into than other road users, hopefully removing only one set of DNA from the gene pool.

  • by Dan East (318230) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @08:05PM (#46598441) Homepage Journal

    This is a very stupid and misleading statistic. I've seen statements like this on Slashdot before, and in my local paper, so I did look up the numbers, and the accident and fatality rates have both been dropping steadily since before handheld cell phones even existed. Almost 100% of the population has cell phones, and they are being used in some manner or another off and on continuously throughout the day. So of course they are being used during a significant number of accidents, because they're being used during a significant number of miles driven.

    If cell phones are a significant cause of accidents, the numbers would very clearly show it, yet they don't. So the best anyone can come up to throw at us is this kind of misleading garbage. 100% of all the accidents I have ever been in involved contacts to correct eye vision. Obviously my contacts are a major problem then?

  • by Rich0 (548339) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @08:15PM (#46598533) Homepage

    Ham radio operators talk on the radio all the time and dont have accidents at that rate,

    Two things.

    First an anecdote - I know a ham who did HF CW in his car while driving.

    Second, I really wonder how they defined a cell phone as being involved in an accident. Did they just record any accident where a phone was someplace visible to the driver? Did they record any accident where a call was in progress? Did they try to determine if the call itself contributed to the accident? Did fault come into it? If you're parked talking on the phone and somebody rear-ends you, does that count as a phone-involved accident?

    These stats might be really telling us that lots of cars have cell phones in them.

  • by bussdriver (620565) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @08:15PM (#46598535)

    Many magic tricks work based upon how predictably easy it is to distract humans.

    Passengers are also paying some attention and CAN more than compensate for the distraction they create. (NOTE: I used the word "can.")

    It only takes an instant of looking at the wrong place to miss the magic trick. Same with driving except the result is not enjoyable.

    Many of the stereo systems I've seen are a disaster, you could die just trying to change the station and when new they have too much of a learning curve - plus all those blinking lights designed to SELL it like a bait for a fish.

    I've missed many accidents over the years and I had a mix of Cell phone, Brats, and airhead teenage boys almost get me. The phone being the only one where it's 100% the user's fault for putting others at risk. They should be punished for reckless endangerment because that is exactly what it is! brats need driving around and teen boys can't help themselves but a cell user could WAIT like everybody used to do not that long ago.

  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @08:15PM (#46598537)
    The professional driver remains compensated for his windshield time only so long as he's relatively problem-free on the road.

    Unlike your amateur drivers, a single DUI or license suspension ends your budding career. The weak have already been weeded out to some degree.

    The threshold for reproduction is marginally less for drivers of POVs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 27, 2014 @08:19PM (#46598577)

    That is per crash, not per mile driven, I believe.

    Per mile driven favors males as ~10% safer.

  • by mjwx (966435) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @09:03PM (#46598877)

    Here's a question: Would the black box tell you how many of these accidents would have happened even if there was no cell phone involved? If so, let's see it. (I honestly don't know.)

    Given that driving using a mobile phone seriously inhibits your ability to concentrate on driving and that the main cause of accidents is driver error, its a very good assumption.

    Far better than the assumption that they would have had the accident anyway.

    Here's the $64 question: If a quarter of accidents happen to occur while somebody is using a cell phone, does that also mean that accidents are up 25% above when nobody had cell phones?

    Your strawman depends on no other factors being involved. It's like claiming drivers are safer since the 80's because fatalities have reduced, this completely ignores the advent and rise of ABS, the seatbelt pre-tensioner as well as crackdowns on speed and drunk driving (and awareness campaigns on driver fatigue).

    Until that is determined, sensationalist figures like these are more harmful than helpful.

    The figures aren't sensationalist when they're true.

    And if they help morons on phones realise that they are morons for being on the phone whilst driving, it's extremely helpful.

  • by godrik (1287354) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @09:12PM (#46598933)

    Well, that statistic is not very useful because it does not take into account many biaises. It is not clear that male and female have the smae driving hours. If male were to drive more during peak hours, it would be logical that they tend to get into more accidents and more fatal accidents.

    Not that GP was not a complete douche, but let's not use statistics to say what they do not say.

  • by Wycliffe (116160) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @09:18PM (#46598971) Homepage

    Far better than the assumption that they would have had the accident anyway.
    The figures aren't sensationalist when they're true.

    They aren't true. They are meaningless. I have a friend who is a real estate
    agent who is always on his phone when he is in the car. Close to 100%.
    Extrapolating out these meaningless statitics to 100% it would mean that
    if everybody constantly talked on their phones while in the car like my friend
    then 100% of all accidents are caused by cell phone use.

    These stats are the equivalent of saying 1 in 4 accidents involve the radio
    or 1 in 4 accidents involve someone drinking a soft drink while driving.
    People talk on cell phones, listen to the radio, and drink soft drinks while
    driving but that doesn't mean any of the 3 cause a 25% increase in accidents
    anymore than saying 25% of accidents involve passengers means that
    the passengers are a direct cause of the accidents.

  • by pspahn (1175617) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @09:22PM (#46598997)

    (I know people who bitch about other people using cell phones while walking or even sitting, which poses no harm to anybody.)

    Yes, people like myself who have had to dodge one too many chatterboxes that think it's okay to just step into the street in front of someone riding a bicycle. After all, Brenda has a new boyfriend and she met him on Craigslist ... ewwww!

    The fact is that people are too, "well that's only other people, that's not me!" and then they proceed to dial a phone call that could have easily waited until back at the office parking lot or whatever. The false sense of urgency people have simply because they can is getting ridiculous. I can accept that probably 1% of phone calls are actually urgent. What I can't accept is the 75% of calls that people think are ugent. What's the old saying, "Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part." Until it is determined that people will behave responsibly, other people will want to legislate that irresponsible behavior away from them. I don't think it has anything to do with "not being a part of their conversation" but rather that people would prefer to live in a world where they aren't surrounded by people chatting casually on a phone and being oblivious to the world around them.

  • Re:great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Immerman (2627577) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @10:05PM (#46599257)

    You ever tried driving one of the high-fidelity simulators (rFactor, etc) that let you record a professional-grade analysis of your driving? Given the known effects of alcohol on the human nervous system I find it *highly* unlikely that you drive as well drunk as sober, though there may be a "sweet spot" where your sense of flow is amplified enough to more than offset your reduced reaction times - I've certainly noticed such an effect myself. Provided of course nothing unexpected happens (one of the benefits of a racing simulator over a real road filled with a never-ending supply of reckless idiots)

    My own observations have been that my lap times may improve considerably while intoxicated, at least when I'm "on", but my crashes are likewise far more... cinematic shall we say. And frequent. And not infrequently rather embarrassing - for example missing a full-throttle curve when distracted by a passing thought. There's a reason I don't drive real cars if I've had a few.

    And if you don't think you're drunk then you're probably one of the people I wouldn't trust behind the wheel - recognizing just how impaired you are, despite the lack of obvious symptoms, seems to be a good 0-th order approximation of your ability to behave responsibly under the influence. Unless you're a metabolic freak your reflexes *are* severely impaired - if you're not aware of that then it means your judgement is severely impaired as well.

  • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Thursday March 27, 2014 @10:17PM (#46599341)

    If you gather the data, from say the National Highway Safety Administration (http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/), you will see that in spite of there being more cars on the road, there are HALF as many deaths from car accidents in 2012 as there were in 1970 (when almost no one had a car phone). This is an amazing number, because the other half of the coin is there are nearly 10x as many people driving. The figures for injuries follow. Yes, there are dozens of reasons for this, including better car safety, slower speeds (i.e. traffic jams), seat belt use, etc. But that does not matter: our safety increases anyway!

    Therefore, because it has the effect of invalidating the entire discussion, the inconvenient data was neglected. I have the same issue as "alcohol related accidents", they set blood-alcohol thresholds pretty arbitrarily and are constantly lowering them based on reactions, not based on scientific study.

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