Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cell Phone Use While Driving Is Safe

According to a 2001 AAA traffic safety report, cell phone use is the eighth most reported cause of distraction-related accidents at 1.5 percent. If fact, adjusting the radio/cassette/CD, other occupant in vehicle, adjusting vehicle/climate control, and eating/drinking while driving are all more distracting than using/dialing cell phone (Table 1).

Table 1

Crash cases involving distracted drivers constitute under 13% of all cases, which makes cell phone use a laughable 0.2% (.13 * .015) of all cases.

Here is what Wikipedia says:
Meta-analysesA 2005 review by the Hawaiian legislature entitled "Cell Phone Use and Motor Vehicle Collisions: A Review of the Studies" contains an analysis of studies on cell phone/motor vehicle accident causality. A key finding was that: "No studies were found that directly address and resolve the issue of whether a causal relation exists between cellular telephone use while operating a motor vehicle and motor vehicle collisions."[10]Meta-analysis by the Canadian Automobile Association[11] and the University of Illinois[12] found that response time while using both hands-free and hand-held phones was approximately 0.5 standard deviations higher than normal driving (i.e., an average driver, while talking on a cell phone, has response times of a driver in roughly the 40th percentile).
I need to repeat that: "No studies were found that directly address and resolve the issue of whether a causal relation exists between cellular telephone use while operating a motor vehicle and motor vehicle collisions."

The second study found that cell phone use is distracting - decreases response time by about 10%. Not a significant figure. Besides, this study has nothing to do with vehicular crushes. Of course talking on the cell phone creates distraction but there is no evidence that it causes car crashes.

Similarly:

As a percentage of distraction-related accidents

In September 2010, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report on distracted driving fatalities for 2009. The NHTSA considers distracted driving to include some of the following as distractions: other occupants in the car, eating, drinking, smoking, adjusting radio, adjusting environmental control, reaching for object in car, and cell phone use. In 2009 in the U.S. there was a reported 5,474 people killed by distracted drivers. Of those 995 were considered to be killed by drivers distracted by cell phones. The report doesn't state whether this under or over represents the level of cell phone use amongst drivers, and whether there is a causal relationship.[5]
A 2003 study of U.S. crash data states that driver inattention is estimated to be a factor in between 20 to 50 percent of all police-reported crashes. Driver distraction, a sub-category of inattention, has been estimated to be a contributing factor in 8 to 13 percent of all crashes. Of distraction-related accidents, cell phone use may range from 1.5 to 5 percent of contributing factors.[6] However, large percentages of unknowns in each of those categories may cause inaccuracies in these estimations. A 2001 study sponsored by The American Automobile Association recorded "Unknown Driver Attention Status" for 41.5 percent of crashes, and "Unknown Distraction" in 8.6 percent of all distraction related accidents.[7]According to NHTSA, "There is clearly inadequate reporting of crashes".[8]
The NHTSA report states that there was a reported 5,474 people killed by distracted drivers is 2009 in the U.S., 16% of 33,808 total (Table 2). Of those, 995 (18% of distracted, 3% of total) were considered to be killed by drivers distracted by cell phones.


Data represents deaths within 30 days of accident. Source: U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts, annual; and unpublished data. See Internet site.

Moreover, the report doesn't state whether there is a causal relationship between cell phone use and distracted driving fatalities.

Some possible explanations for this may include defensive driving -adjusting to the increased distraction, e.g., slowing down.

Other arguments stem from the steady decline in automobile fatalities (9.7% decrease from 2008 to 2009) despite the increase in cell phone subscriptions.  

In conclusion, while talking on the phone may create distraction, it does not translate into auto accidents. 

No comments:

Post a Comment